Quotes from WRI's Countering the Militarisation of Youth conference: Recruitment, and The military in public and private space


The way that I ended up joining the military was that when I was a senior in high school I intended to go to college but I didn't have any way to pay for it...I talked to an army recruiter [about an army scholarship] and he made it sound really good...Any time between signing the contract and going to basic training, you can change your mind and there won't be any consequences. Of course, the recruiters won't tell you that – they'll threaten legal consequences etc... - Kelly Dougherty, USA

Adults – mature people – were not recruited into the military. Why recruit children? They recruited children because children are vulnerable, docile and can easily be brain-washed. Children don't think before they act. All they hear is “go”. They act like robots. - Domino Frank Suleiman, Liberia

The military has really been nothing more than a career for people in Canada. It hasn’t been an ideological force, because we don’t have to protect our borders; we’ve never had wars that are our own. So the military recruits mostly in high school from students who...come from low economic backgrounds, and also from rural areas where traditional industries have collapsed... - Christel LeBlanc, Canada

There’s one big factor that makes youth develop so much interest in enlistment: poverty. That is the key term, because we have got a high rate of unemployment... - Samuel Koduh, Ghana

Adventure and technology play the biggest roles in advertisements aimed at young people. Things like the trauma and injuries Dutch troops returning from Afghanistan are experiencing are obviously not addressed. - Geart Bosma, Netherlands

2012 was the first year since the military reform in 2000 that the volunteer quota hasn’t been fulfilled...So the the advertising campaign has focused more on looking for the “heroic soldier”, by promoting the idea of the helpful soldier who, for example, helped a lot in the earthquake catastrophe in 2010. - Dan Contreras, Chile

They cover the whole range from cinema, TV, printed material like brochures, and much more now on Facebook, YouTube. They also go into schools, they hold village fêtes, they have military parades, big military ceremonies. They attach military ceremonies to various other national events like the Olympics...– David Gee, UK

The military in public and private space

I come from Hebron where there are some hundreds of Israeli settlers in the heart of the city who are protected by about 4,000 soldiers from the Israeli army. If you go to the old town you see soldiers everywhere. If you go to another town you see soldiers at the checkpoints. The Israeli military is everywhere...Palestine does not have its own armed forces, only police...although according to estimates Hamas [the Palestinian political party] has around 17,000 soldiers in the Gaza Strip. - Fadi Zatari, Palestine

National holidays are exploited by the military as a chance to showcase themselves in city centres. Sometimes they exhibit tanks in market squares. There are also open days for all branches of military services, which are very popular. Children have the chance to shoot with real rifles there. This obviously gets them excited. - Geart Bosma, Netherlands

If you look at the international airport in Ghana, it's named after one military man: General Kotoka. During Independence Day celebrations the military are there, parading, and the president inspects them. - Samuel Koduh, Ghana

The army gets conscripts to collect money for veteran organisations, so quite often you can see them in the streets in their army uniform collecting money... - Paavo Kolttola, Finland

You see soldiers on the streets all the time, with their weapons, going home. In May 2012 I saw a picture from a beer festival of a girl in her bikini, with her M-16 [rifle]...we're very much used to seeing weapons, literally everywhere. - Sahar Vardi, Israel

With the monuments...it's continuing the war with different tools. It's continuing with victims. Continuing this war mentality after the fighting is over. And the special problem with monuments is that they will stay for a very long time. - Boro Kitanoski, Macedonia

Since the end of conscription in 2010 the military has a lot of advertising on public transport, in public spaces – at specific events like the Stockholm Pride Festival and other festivals and happenings where there’s a lot of people in central town, and also on social media – YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, and other online forums - because they want to attract young people. - Cattis Laska, Sweden

Colombia has a strong military and police presence on the streets, with automatic weapons, because we are in a state of war...you end up accepting the armed presence as an everyday occurrence. - Jorge Veléz, Colombia

They're actually targetting people below the recruitment age in order to get them ready for a military career before they reach recruitment age. And one of the ways they're doing that is by developing computer games of various kinds, to encourage a view of warfare as something that's exciting and glamourous. - David Gee, UK

The people working on developing Battlefield 3 went with the Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan to get a real picture of the war, and to implement that into their video/computer games. - Cattis Laska, Sweden