Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Militaristic Knot

Came across this today. The issue of military service is one of the most vital yet impossible points which those seeking decolonization must attack or at least irritate. Military service provides a crucial role in naturalizing certain statements, ideas, relationships and beliefs in Guam, whether it be Guam's dependency on the United States (similar to the NYT article a few months ago), Guam's love for the United States (as evidenced concretely through the higest recruitment statistics in the country!) and Guam's central value as anything in this world, as a bsae for the military operations and fantasies of the United States (we are doing our part! ("our part" always seems to be providing a base for military operations and fantasies))

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Guam has high recruit rate
by Ryota Dei
Pacific Daily News
October 9, 2005

Jaelin Sanchez said joining the U.S. Navy is "the way to go" after graduating from Guam International Christian Academy in May.
"There are so many things I want to do," the 18-year-old Mongmong resident said. "Plus I need the workout ... I want to travel. I want to meet different people and live in different countries. I want to discipline myself because I really need it. I want to be more independent."
The nation's military recruiters have experienced a big slump in the last fiscal year. However, Guam's sons and daughters continue to show a strong interest in military jobs.
In the past few years, the island's recruitment numbers exceed quotas set by the Department of Defense.
An Associated Press report states the Army has experienced one of its worst recruitment slumps in fiscal year 2005 by missing its enlistment goal by the largest margin since 1979.
The federal government has been seeking to enlarge the Army in order to supply enough soldiers to support its overseas engagements, including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Army was only able to recruit about 73,000 in fiscal year 2005, a shortfall of 7,000 enlistees from its goal, according to the report.
The Washington Post also reported the Marine Corps fell short of its monthly recruiting quota in January for the first time in a decade.
Both reports state that the rising death polls of soldiers in the Middle East has put a damper on eagerness to join the military. Also, a strong national economy has created more career options besides joining the military.
But on Guam, the Army has recruited 253 active duty soldiers in fiscal 2005, which exceeds the goal of 238 recruits. The U.S. Coast Guard also has surpassed the fiscal 2005's goal of 22 by recruiting 40.
Ladonna Castro said raised self-discipline, good salaries and benefits and travel opportunities are three main reasons for joining the Army.
"They have good medical plans -- medical and dental insurance. And the pay is good," said the 24-year-old woman from Rota. " It pays me way better than jobs I can get in Rota."
Edward Galvez, 25, also seeks better salaries and benefits.
As a son of an immigrant family from the Philippines, Galves said he couldn't find a better paying job than the military. Galves had worked at a gasoline service station and a construction site. Despite his degree in computer science both jobs paid him barely more than the minimum wage.
"I couldn't find any jobs that pay well. That's my only reason to join the military," he said. "It's kind of hard to be separated from family. But it was my decision."
Willie Pizarro, the Navy's recruiter-in-charge, said a recruiter in the mainland usually recruits one person a month. However, a recruiter on Guam averages about twice that.
Pizarro said one of the main reasons why Guam has a better recruitment average is that the military can satisfy young people's financial and travel ambitions.
"The economy is a little low here on Guam. Also there are not many jobs that pay them well. That's why young people tend to be attracted to the military," he said. "Also, in the states, people can travel to anywhere. But Guam is an island. Traveling options are very limited."
Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Pereira, the Army Recruiting Station commander, said the strong recruitment on Guam stems from patriotism.
"It's a history. I always felt that there's always an appreciation for the U.S.," he said. "There are a lot of families on Guam who have some type of experience with the military."
Gary Apatang, 18, is the youngest male in a family of three boys and six girls. His brothers have been stationed in Korea, and Apatang joined his school's JROTC program. He is leaving to Hawaii for an Army training camp today.
"I want to be independent," he said. "I really want to start my life in a proper way."
Despite high local recruitment numbers, Army Recruiter Pereira said it's still not an easy job.
"We don't have people knocking on the doors and telling us, 'Hey I want to join now.' We don't have people calling in and saying 'Hey, I'm coming down now,'" Pereira said. "We still have to go out there. But because of the history and the military influence in the family, a lot of kids today just need guidance. That's what we offer -- guidance. Once somebody opens a door for them, they take advantage of it."

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