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August 03, 2005

Energetic Flogging

The Defense Department has just recently began "energetically flogging" the National Call to Service program, according to military recruiters.

The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is offering
to allow recruits to meet part of their military obligations by serving in
the Peace Corps, which has resisted any ties to the Defense Department or
U.S. intelligence agencies since its founding in 1961.


After the law went into effect in 2003, the Defense Department was
slow to promote the option of combining military and Peace Corps service,
but it is now energetically flogging the "National Call to Service"
program, recruiters said. The Army, which began a pilot project in 10 of
its 41 recruiting districts in October 2003, expanded it into a nationwide
effort this year. The Air Force, Navy and Marines offer identical programs,
said Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

(emphasis mine, in case you had any doubt)

I'm usually all about energetic flogging, but in this case, I'm just not sure it's such a good idea.

The Peace Corps already has four times as many applicants as they have positions. Do they really need more unless they get more funding? And I'm just hypothesizing here, but aren't the general mentalities of a military recruit and a Peace Corps recruit kind of really different? Also, I fear that those fer-i-ners out there that have a distaste for the U.S. military are gonna start not liking the Peace Corps too, if they associate it with the military.

"Does this raise red flags for the Peace Corps community? I'd say
yes -- emphatically so," said Kevin Quigley, president of the National
Peace Corps Association, an organization of returned volunteers, staff
and supporters. "We think a real or perceived linkage between the Peace
Corps and military service could damage the Peace Corps and potentially
put the safety of Peace Corps volunteers at risk."


"We are already accused on a daily basis of being CIA agents so I don't
see how this [link to the U.S. military] could help," a volunteer in
Burkina Faso said by e-mail.

"It is hard enough trying to integrate yourself into a completely
different culture, convincing people that . . . Americans are not these
gun-toting sex maniacs . . . without having a connection to the U.S.
military," another volunteer in Africa wrote.

And the funniest part of this, besides the 'energetic flogging' part, is that the Peace Corps didn't even know about the new law.

Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez, who was appointed in 2002
by President Bush, said in a recent interview that the Peace Corps was
unaware of the provision until after it became law.

Oh, and this part is funny too.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush called for doubling the
size of the Peace Corps, from 7,000 to 14,000 volunteers, within five years.
That same year, the administration named a career Navy officer with 12
years of experience in military recruiting to head the Peace Corps'
recruitment and selection office.

Since then, however, the Corps has grown by little more than 10 percent.
Barbara Daly, a spokeswoman for the Corps, said that tight budgets --
rather than a shortage of qualified candidates -- were the reason.

Doesn't it sound a wee bit like chimpy wants to militarize the Peace Corps?

via Shakespeare's Sister