Who's in the Army now? A pitch switch aims to get more military recruits

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Staff Sgt. Joshua Spearman speaks to fairgoers in the Army recruiting tent at the Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on August 31,

Jenn Ackerman, NPR


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Jenn Ackerman, NPR


Staff Sgt. Staff Sgt.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

St. PAUL, Minn. – Staff Sgt. Joshua Spearman holds the metal bench tightly and looks out at the crowd with his wraparound dark sunglasses. He is a hulking soldier with a black T shirt and tattoos on his left arm. Families in strollers, couples holding stuffed animals they just won, and elderly fairgoers in motorized chairs. He is soon able to see his target: a group of young men. He throws out his sales pitch.

“Hey! What’s the best thing? Come and work off all those fair snacks. Dude, I’m serious! Deadlift challenge! “

The men in the crowd smile at him, but they shake their heads.

“No? No? Nothing?” Spearman presses. “Win your girl a T-shirt, man! It’s the ultimate fair tale! “

Spearman’s work is cut out for. The Army struggles to fill its ranks. Last year, the Army was short by 15,000 soldiers. It’s better this year but still about 10,000 short. There are two main reasons why it hasn’t reached its recruitment targets. The Army is in competition for talent, with the strong economy providing good jobs and benefits. The pandemic also kept recruiters away from high schools, which are prime locations to find future soldiers.
Louella Lacson, Sgt. First Class talks to fairgoers in the Army tent at the Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on August 31,

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

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Jenn Ackerman, NPR


Louella Lacson, Sgt. First Class speaks to fairgoers in the Army recruiting tent at the Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 31.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR


The Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, August 31, was a recruiting event for the Army.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR


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Jenn Ackerman, NPR

The Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 31st, will be a recruiting event for the Army.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

Behind Spearman, there is a small grassy lot that has a few pop-up canopy tents and a pull up bar for deadlifts. A Humvee’s door is propped open. It’s all designed to lure in prospects.
Finally, college student Andrew Magneson takes the bait. He is a big guy in a Minnesota T shirt with reddish curly hair. He gets a T-shirt from the Army for completing 20 deadlifts. But the Army does not get him. “It’s just not for me,” says he. “I’m sure of that. I don’t understand. I don’t like fighting. “

And the friends of his? “

And his friends? “Have you ever considered the Army?” “So have you guys ever thought about the Army?” Robert Pederon. “Not at all,” replies one.


: When someone mentions ‘Army,’ what is the first thought that comes to mind?” He asks.

“War,” replies one of the young boys.

Charlie Minor, Hunter Beestmen, and Braydenlytle examine the equipment in the Army recruitment tent during the Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 30, 2018.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

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Charlie Major, Hunter Beestmen, and Braydenlytle examine the equipment in the Army recruitment tent on the Minnesota State Fair, August 30, Falcon Heights, Minn.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

Sam Stoll stopped at the Army Recruitment tent on August 31, for a competition in deadlifts at the Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

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Sam Stall stops at the Army recruiting tent to compete in a deadlift contest at the Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn. on the 31.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

Pederon pushes on, trying to down play the notion of war, make the Army sound like a regular job, something they can easily fit into their lives.


“There’s a part-time option,” he says. “You can only join the Army for one week per month and two weeks in the summer. We’ll pay your room and board, as well as for college. But they all say “I’ll pass. The Army survey confirms their hesitation. The Army has come up with a new marketing technique, using an old slogan. So the Army has come up with a new marketing technique, with an old slogan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lwx-2R9swDg

YouTubeFor those who want to join the Army, they may not make the cut
Some say they’re at least thinking about the Army, including a 16-year-old high school girl named Alexis who will have to wait a year or two. A recruiter near her overhears the girl and rushes to her, grabbing her details including her Instagram handle. Keep in touch.

A senior officer told NPR that now the pandemic has passed, the Army will be launching a “blitz” in high schools to find recruits who are like her. Officials expect that the slow recruiting climate will persist for some time. The Army will have to reduce its force in all bases across the country as a result. They’re also trying to attract the next generation.


Isaiah Uy (8 years old) maneuvers a remote control device at the Army Recruitment tent at the Minnesota State Fair, in Falcon Heights (Minn.), on August 31,


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Isaiah, 8 years old, maneuvers a remote control device at the Army Recruitment tent at the Minnesota State Fair, in Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 31.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

The Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, August 31, was a recruiting event for the Army.

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Jenn Ackerman, NPR

The Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 31st, will be a recruiting event for the Army.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

A recruiter shows a young boy how to use a handheld remote. He controls a small tracked Army robot through a series plastic road cones using a monitor. It’s clever to get the idea into their head early. We heard from many of the

young people that were

interested: “It is something I have always wanted to try.” Even if you are ready to sign up you may not be accepted. Recent Pentagon research found that less than a quarter of America’s young people would be eligible for military service if they didn’t have a waiver. This is because many are overweight or have mental or physical problems. The military is increasingly hiring immigrants, like Sgt. They can talk to 1st Class Nouella Lacson.

Lacson came from the Philippines with her family. She is standing near a table covered in brochures, dog tags, and lanyards. “Most of my candidates are immigrants. “I can relate to them,” says the woman with a smile. Many of them are from Mexico and other countries. She’ll tell her story to make them feel at ease.
Louella Lacson (Sargent First Class) at the Army Recruitment Tent at the Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 31, 2008.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR


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A picture of Louella Lacson (Sargent First Class), at the Army recruiting tent at the Minnesota State Fair, in Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 311.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

The Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, August 31, was a recruiting event for the Army.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR


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Jenn Ackerman, NPR

The Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 31st, will be a recruiting event for the Army.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

She says “I joined the Army when I was 22” and then goes on to tell how she got through college with the Army. It also helps that she is a female. She claims that most of her candidates are women. She says, “I can relate.” Because a lot people will tell that you can’t have certain things. “Are you willing to let others tell you what you can or cannot do?” I ask them. About 16 percent of Army personnel are women, and this number is steadily increasing.


And now all ground combat jobs are open to women, so the Army is pushing that in some of its ads.

And now all ground combat jobs are open to women, so the Army is pushing that in some of its ads, including a woman spotting a target inside a Abrams tank.

YouTubeBut that all leads to another hurdle in recruiting: Army surveys show some 20 percent of women questioned were wary of joining, saying they’ll be discriminated against. Sexual harassment and assault remain a problem. The Army reported a 9 percent decrease in sexual assaults last year. However, a year prior, reports involving soldiers had increased by 26 percent. But Lt.Col. Kristen Grace who is in charge of all recruiters has played this down. She says, “I’ve never had anything like that.” Lacson: “I’ve never had that experience.” Lacson. But it is still a problem. One possible recruit, Harmony Cook, says her friends are worried about it when she talks about joining the military.

“They say like I’m going to be treated more differently than the guys,” she says. “Or that the guys will be intimidating and all and I may not be able stand a shot.” “

But, she wants to become a medic with a $50,000 bonus.

So Harmony is just one of 25 potential recruits who have requested an interview. Another 750 people have requested more information. The ‘tough-guy’ approach won’t go away

And although the Army promotes personal development and service today, while playing down combat in order to attract female recruits. That “tough-guy” approach will not totally disappear.

Spearman pulled over Iowa college student Landon Arends, who said he was leaning towards the Marines as he wanted to see combat. Sgt. Spearman dismisses that.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Spearman speaks to Harmony Cook, her mother Tara and the Army recruiters at the Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on August 31,

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

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Jenn Ackerman, NPR

Staff Sgt. Joshua Spearman speaks to Harmony Cook, her mother Tara and the Army recruiters at the Minnesota State Fair, in Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 31.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR


The Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, August 31, was a recruiting event for the Army.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

hide captiontoggle caption

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

The Minnesota State Fair, Falcon Heights, Minn. on August 31st, will be a recruiting event for the Army.

Jenn Ackerman, NPR

I’ve been deployed three times with a Special Forces unit. Spearman, in rapid-fire delivery, says: “I’ve never seen Marines fighting out there. They’re people who are in a constant state of conflict. Do you want to fight? Our Green Berets have been fighting for years. Our Army Rangers have joined the fight. “

Arends still has a hesitant attitude. He wrestles and is still in college. Spearman replies, “But they don’t even pay you to do it.” Arends informs him that he has student loan debt. Spearman says, “That’s really bad.” He points out that college aid is available to those who sign up. I wrote a $214,000 cheque to a girl in high school last year. Spearman, who is a colleague of Arends, pulls Capt. Tyler Owen seals the deal.

“He is also a paratrooper, like me. Spearman tells Arends that he is also an infantryman. This could be your ultimate goal. Spearman might just have another recruit. “I got you on Instagram,” Arends tells him. “You got my number, man. Reach out. Let’s change the world. Spearman smiles at Owen as Arends leaves. The Ranger’s insignia was very helpful, thanks to its prestige and grit. “Had that f ****** ranger tab off of you real quickly, sir. “