As the military falls short of its recruitment goals, it is engaging in manipulative tactics that anti-militarism groups are educating and organizing against.

By Roberto Camacho, Prism

With a record low number of potential recruits and few of those willing to enlist, the U.S. military is trying to boost its numbers by targeting low-income and working-class communities of color for recruitment drives and altering how it markets military propaganda in schools to students of color who view enlistment as a potential means of escaping cycles of poverty. As national population demographics continue to trend toward an increase in non-white communities (especially among people under the age of 18), anti-recruitment advocates have noticed an alarming uptick in military efforts to attract Latinx students and their families in particular, reflecting the growth of Latinx communities across the U.S.

One soldier shows another where to sign on a piece of paper

Although Latinxs currently make up a smaller portion of the U.S. military, recruiters and their higher-ups are keenly aware that they are one of the fastest growing demographics at or reaching enlistment age in the general population and the fastest growing population in the U.S. military. In fact, according to the Department of Defense Latinx recruits currently comprise about 16% of all active-duty military personnel, and recruiters are shifting their strategies accordingly.

“The tactics have become more sinister—the military uses monetary incentives to sway students, especially Latinos and other students of color from marginalized backgrounds,” said Cassy Hernandez, an SDSU Chicano studies graduate and the current program coordinator for the nonprofit counter-recruitment organization Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (Project YANO), which works to counter the effects of militarism on people and communities by presenting alternatives to joining the military.

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