Pentagon's JAMRS recruiting database; 30 million kids and counting

Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 10:05 AM

We've already posted stories on the intense pressure that recruiters now face and the advertising blitz that the military is using to help out, but this one was new to me.

If you thought it was bad that the No Child Left Behind Act (section 9528) requires most secondary schools to submit lists of students with pertinent info to military recruiters, you're going to love the news that the Department of Defense maintains its own database of info on American kids of prime military recruitment age.

From "Mining for kids," by Kathryn Casa, Vermont Guardian, 1/13/06, p. 8 (apparently not yet online at The Vermont Guardian)
"Parents cannot remove  their children's names from a Pentagon database that includes highly personal information used to attract military recruits, the Vermont Guardian has learned.

"The Pentagon has spent more than $70.5 million on market research, national advertising, website development, and management of the Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies (JAMRS) database--a storehouse of questionable legality that includes the names and personal details of more than 30 million U.S. children and young people between the ages of 16 and 23.

"The database is separate from information collected from schools that receive federal education money.  The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to report the names, addresses, and phone numbers of secondary school students to recruiters, but the law also specifies that parents or guardians may write a letter to the school asking that their children's names not be released."

As to the JAMRS database, however, "Parents must contact the Pentagon directly to ask that their children's information not be released to recruiters, but the data is not removed from the JAMRS database, according to Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

"Instead, the information is moved to a suppression file, where it is continuously updated with new data from private and government sources and still made available to recruiters, Krenke said.  It's necessary to keep the information in the suppresion file so the Pentagon can make sure it's not being released, she said.

"Krenke said the database is compiled using information from state motor vehicle departments, the Selective Service, and datamining firms that collect and organize information from private companies.  In addition to names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and phone numbers, the database may include cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity, and subjects of interest."
[end excerpt]

An appropriate reaction comes from Leave My Child Alone (LMCA):
"Yikes. What do we do? Any way you look at it, this is a family privacy nightmare, another strong-arming of our local schools, and a creepy warm-up to a possible draft. However, it's also a great reason to get together and take action."

LMCA's web site has a lot of info and forms to help parents deal with this if they don't want their kids besieged by recruiters.

For what it's worth, I checked out the JAMRS site.  Not a lot of (or any) overt mention of the database.  Just a ton of interconnecting links to various pages, all serving partly as an information source, and partly as a recruiting tool, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly.  From the front page of the web site:

"In FY 2004, JAMRS continues its mission of providing the Services with marketing solutions that help maximize their effectiveness at recruiting people. This includes such "core" JAMRS projects as:
·    Joint Direct Marketing Program (list buys, Selective Service mailings, Web sites)
·    Joint Advertising Tracking System
·    Polls and Surveys (Research and Analysis)
·    Web sites

"Beyond these projects, JAMRS continues its "Today's Military" marketing communications campaign designed to increase the willingness of parents, other adult influencers, and current Service members to recommend military service to American youth. This campaign, which began in June 2003, can be seen in print in 27 national publications, on television as a Public Service Announcement, and online as banner advertisements."

One of the many other pages you may end up on as you click away on this site is: Myths vs. Reality about military life, where you learn that:

The Military is a roadblock to a higher education.
·    Qualified servicemembers can receive up to $65,000 in tuition benefits.
·    Over 30,000 degrees were earned by service personnel in 1999 alone.
·    The Military operates over 300 schools, teaching more than 10,000 courses.
·    More than half the enlisted force has some college experience.
·    The Military offers retired personnel up to $100/month reimbursement for tutorial assistance.
·    The Military provides free training for personnel interested in starting or enhancing a small business.
·    Many military bases bring in professors from local colleges to teach courses.
·    Military personnel can take college courses through the Internet.

People in the Military are not compensated as well as private sector workers.
·    Every servicemember receives 30 days of paid vacation annually.
·    Many allowances paid out by the Military are tax-exempt.
·    Members of the Military receive discounts for childcare, vacations, and golf.
·    The Army, Navy, and Air Force offer up to a $20,000 enlistment bonus.
·    After 20 years of service, retired personnel can potentially receive military retirement pay for life.
·    Military pay is comparable and in some cases better than its civilian counterparts

Women have a hard time achieving success in the Military.
·    Approximately 95% of all jobs in the Military are open to women.
·    The percentage of women serving on active duty in the Military has more than doubled since 1978.
·    Women account for close to 20% of the U.S. Military.
·    Women account for the largest increase in enlistment.

Military training and jobs have little relation to the civilian world.
·    88% of Military jobs have direct civilian counterparts.
·    81% of all jobs in the Military are non-combat occupations.
·    Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are less likely to be unemployed than non-veterans.
·    The Military offers more than 4,100 specialized jobs in varied fields.

It's nearly impossible for ordinary people to complete Basic Training.
·    About 90% of recruits successfully complete Basic Recruit Training.

Now, I ask you, didn't that pretty well cover all the "myths" and"reality" that you could ever imagine?  Especially since the only "myth" they address that I've ever even heard of before is about women having a harder time in the military.  And, I probably wasn't supposed to notice that their attempt to rebut that "myth" is mostly beside the point.

So they know info on 30 million+ kids, they appear to routinely collect all phone messages involving overseas numbers (and who knows how many within the US?), NSA and DoD are both spying on Quakers and other dangerous peaceniks and dissidents, and the public is.....asleep?  Drugged? Too worried about economic survival to pay attention?  All of the above?