Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's not a job. It's an adventure.

It's no secret that the Canadian Forces are stepping up recruiting. Regardless of current events, even the previous government had authorized an increased personnel ceiling after several years of maintaining what can only be described as a markedly understaffed military and navy.

With the authorization of a personnel increase, of course, there are new recruiting advertisements.

The focus of the campaign will be two, fast-paced videos that show members of the Forces engaged in combat or helping with disaster relief. One of the 90-second ads, which will be shown in theatres and on TV, feature soldiers with assault rifles drawn, kicking in doors and rescuing a distraught hostage.

Another rapid-fire montage shows a navy ship cutting through heavy swells, a helicopter roaring through a desolate valley and paratroopers plunging from aircraft.

Complemented by a sparse but haunting soundtrack, the stark black-and-white images are set against dramatic backdrops: bombed-out villages, burning forests, heaving seas.

A superimposed message flashes on the screen: "Fight Fear. Fight Distress. Fight Chaos. Fight with the Canadian Forces."
That's nice.

Actually, a ship only cuts through heavy swells from the view of the outsider. When one is "in" the ship it turns into a bone-jarring, slamming motion. Even when properly secured for sea, things have a tendency to come loose and fly all over the place.

Paratroopers "plunging" is an interesting term. I'm sure most jumpers would prefer a different term, but I suppose given some of the recent video clips available on the CF recruiting site I suppose egressing the aircraft can be viewed as "plunging". For a very short time.

The fighting part is interesting. Fighting chaos in the Canadian Forces could be described as a daily task, even in peacetime, in barracks.

The ads will be aired first in Atlantic Canada, the economically challenged region where the military already draws a disproportionate number of its recruits. If the ads receive a good response, they will be rolled out across the country.

Atlantic Canada is the place Steve Harper described as being cloaked in a culture of defeat. Not that anything he ever said is believable, but if one looks around the Canadian Forces, as Lewandowski points out, the Maritimes and Newfoundland have long provided a disproportionately large number of recruits when compared to the rest of Canada. While it's certainly easier recruiting in a region where the economy often forces young people to look at the military as a career path, it's not fair to the rest of the country. Why not run these ads in Calgary? One would think that running hard-hitting recruiting ads in Conservative electoral strongholds would yield exceptional results. Instead of cheering the troops along, Harper/Bush supporters could stand should to shoulder with them.

Craig Pittman, a 26-year-old from Sydney, N.S., had already taken his service oath by the time he sat down to watch the ads, but he was still impressed.

"The first one was dark, but I found it very hyping," he said. "It hit me like, 'Wow! I think that would be kind of cool.' "
Really cool! There are a few parts, however, you were not shown.

Some of the things with which a young ordinary seaman becomes intimate are buckets, scrubbers and deck cloth. That ship "cutting through heavy swells" has to be kept clean. And, new riflemen should really get the recruiter to explain the hows and whys of a fire trench. There will, of course be those days when you just know a mule can't carry the weight that your platoon WO insists is your share of the load.

The goal is clear: show young men that the Forces can provide an exciting career option by appealing to their sense of adventure.
Young men? Hopefully this is a reporting error and not something out of the mouth of a recruiter. The CF is a completely equal opportunity outfit. Young women with a sense of adventure have as much access to all this good stuff as any young man. In fact, it's not just for the young.

There is a highly erronious belief out there, particularly among the microchip militia, that the recruiting age cut-off is somewhere in the 40 year-old range. That's in the USA. Canada has a different deal.

There is nothing to prevent anyone over the age of 16 from applying for service. In fact, the new compulsory retirement age in the CF is 60. Given that the shortest engagement is for 3 years that means that if you have not reached your 57th birthday, there may be a place for you. Just go here to find out.

I'm not sure about the amounts of adventure these new ads are supposedly highlighting, but a career in the service can be personally rewarding, a distinct challenge, financially adequate and at times, a lot of fun. And, oh yes, sometimes it can be deadly.

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