View Full Version : Target 5 Investigates Armed Forces Recruiting Stations

11-23-05, 05:39 PM
Target 5 Investigates Armed Forces Recruiting Stations
Wed Nov 23,11:56 AM ET
WLWT ChannelCincinnati.com.

Six months ago, we sent young men posing as recruits into every Tri-State armed forces recruiting station. While some recruiters played it straight with the facts, others made outrageous statements, downplaying the danger in Iraq.

While our investigation got the attention of the armed forces, it apparently hasn't stopped some recruiters from opening their mouths and inserting their boots as we continue our look at "Conduct Unbecoming."

Recruiter: "Ready to be all that you can be?"

It is a job where success is measured in numbers.

Recruiter: "Don't hesitate. Don't leave me hanging."

A job where military branches compete for recruits.

Recruiter: "If a branch got to throw money at you, they're trying to buy you."

A place where young men and women are deluged with detail.

Recruiter: "20,000 enlistment bonus, give you 70 percent up front."

And in some cases a flurry of fiction.

Recruiter: "Statistically you have more of a chance of getting on the highway today and driving home and dying than you do over in Iraq."

Six months ago, we sent four young men into every Tri-State armed forces recruiting office.

Recruiter: "What's your name?"

When the recruits' questions turned to safety, the answers ranged from reality...

Recruiter: "It's war, you know?"

...to ridiculous.

Recruiter: "Dayton area alone, which is about four or five counties, Dayton area alone, 1,500 people died in two weeks. You know what that was from? Car wrecks. Those numbers that we get, we get from the actual highway patrol. So I mean, all that stuff's factual. So you look at that way. We've lost 1,500 soldiers so far over in Iraq. We've been over there for three years. If you add it together, 1,500 people died in five counties alone within two weeks, just from car wrecks."

In reality, there aren't 1,500 deaths from car wrecks in the entire state of Ohio for an entire year.

Dave Wagner: "How many of you have been contacted by a military recruiter?"

These days, military recruiters aren't waiting for kids to come to them. They're frequent visitors to Tri-State high schools. All schools that receive federal funding -- and nearly all of them do -- are required to give military recruiters access to your child's name, address and phone number.

Bill Fisher: "From a recruiting standpoint, that's a great thing, because a lot of people we couldn't get numbers before to actually tell the story -- the Army story or the armed forces story -- we now can."

Bill Fisher is a retired master sergeant with the U.S. Army. He recruited for 13 years.

Bill Fisher: "Their job is to call you and try to get your interest sparked."

This year, military recruiting has been an uphill battle. At the end of September, the Army was more than 6,600 recruits below its goal -- the largest shortfall in 26 years. The Army National Guard and Reserve did even worse.

There's no question -- the danger of serving in Iraq has reduced the number of interested recruits. And Target 5 discovered Tri-State military recruiters downplaying the dangers to make Iraq seem safe.

Recruiter: "You have more chance of dying here in the United States. At what is it, 36 percent die, kill rate here in the United States, people here just dying left and right. You have more chance of dying over here than you do over there."

The U.S. does not have a 36 percent kill rate. That would mean more than 100 million people, one-third of the U.S. population, are killed each year.

Bill Fisher: "To just openly not tell the truth -- to push it aside -- that's just wrong."

In May, the National Spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox told Target 5:

"For whatever reasons these recruiters must have found these talking points somewhere on their own. I don't know."

Just days after our story aired, Army recruiting was suspended nationwide for a day of retraining, and we were assured recruiters would be warned about lying to recruits.

So over the past month, we returned to Tri-State recruiting offices to see if the pitch had changed from fantasy to fact.

Recruiter: "My question is, do you see yourself being a part of this team?"

In some cases, recruits were told the realities of war. In others, it was the same song and dance, where recruiters played up the bonuses...

Recruiter: "There's bonuses right now up to $20,000."

...and played down the dangers. This recruiter says he spent 3 1/2 months in Iraq.

Recruiter: "It's dangerous. But it's dangerous walking down the street downtown Cincinnati too. You see what I'm saying? You have just as much chance of getting shot downtown as you would over there."

The truth is, even if you combine downtown Cincinnati and the surrounding communities, fewer than 200 people have been shot over the past three years. In Iraq during that time, 1,373 U.S. servicemen and women have been shot -- 346 have died.

Bill Fisher: "Conduct unbecoming a non-commissioned officer is what those statements are."

Just last week, another young Marine was laid to rest -- the seventh Tri-State Marine killed in the past 3 1/2 months. Only California and Texas have lost more men and women in this war. A majority of those killed -- under the age of 24. Most from the Army and Marines.

Recruiter: "Tell her the news is only going to show you the bad stuff. That's it."

While these names and numbers are from the Department of Defense, this Army recruiter blames us for the tragic news, telling this recruit that his mother should avoid watching Channel 5 News.

Recruiter: "What channel does she watch?" Recruit: "I don't know" Recruiter: "Yeah, find that out. If she watches Channel 5, they're anti-government, anti-military anyway, and they're not going to be focused on the positive, anyway."

Focusing on the positive isn't what we found in some of these military recruiting offices. We found recruiters trashing other branches of the Armed Forces in their competition for new recruits.

Recruiter: "I went to check out the other services. My experience, Air Force stood me up twice. The Navy -- his uniform was nasty looking, and he was like super huge, fat and I was like, 'Eww' He's like, 'Yeah, you can sit on boats and stuff, and, you know, do all this technical stuff.'

Recruiter: "Six months on a boat is not cool."

And it wasn't just fellow recruiters they were trashing -- Cincinnati was trashed twice. This Army recruiter said the city is more deadly than Iraq.

Recruiter: "You're going to have people getting killed. You have more people murdered in Cincinnati in a day than you have in Iraq killed in a day. OK, I don't like to throw out statistics though, you know what I mean? But it's true."

According to statistics from the Cincinnati Police Department and Department of Defense, that comment is not true. Since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March of 2003, 192 people have been murdered in Cincinnati -- an average of one person every five days.

In Iraq, nearly two U.S. troops are killed every day. Over the past 2 1/2 years, 2,000 U.S. servicemen and women have died -- 15,000 more have been wounded.

Tonight the U.S. Army Recruiting Command responded to our latest Target 5 investigation.

Statement from Marlene Bland/U.S. Army Recruiting Command: "We understand there are inherent risks that come with military service, and in that regard, we demand recruiters to be as open and honest as possible in conveying those risks. If we were to find that a recruiter is being intentionally dishonest in his communications, we would take immediate disciplinary action as appropriate."

With no end in sight for the war in Iraq, the battle to fill the ranks continues, and so does the search for the truth.

Bill Fisher: "You don't have to sway them by innuendos or lies. You just have to search for those who want to join, and there are tons of them."