Sunday, July 31, 2005
When the Chickenhawks won't fight, find some poor people.
Jim Brooke, crack North Asia correspondent for the NY Times files this story on one of the Army's most productive recruiting areas.
From Pago Pago in American Samoa to Yap in Micronesia, 4,000 miles to the west, Army recruiters are scouring the Pacific, looking for high school graduates to enlist at a time when the Iraq war is turning off many candidates in the States.I am not in any way impugning the patriotism of these people, but when Army pay and bonuses look like an NFL contrct, it's not hard to see why so many enlist. Can you imagine how much one would have to offer the doughy pantloads of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders to get a similar result?
The Army has found fertile ground in the poverty pockets of the Pacific. The per capita income is $8,000 in American Samoa, $12,500 in the Northern Marianas and $21,000 in Guam, all United States territories. In the Marshalls and Micronesia, former trust territories, per capita incomes are about $2,000.
The Army minimum signing bonus is $5,000. Starting pay for a private first class is $17,472. Education benefits can be as much as $70,000.
"You can't beat recruiting here in the Marianas, in Micronesia," said First Sgt. Olympio Magofna, who grew up on Saipan and oversees Pacific recruiting for the Army from his base in Guam. "In the states, they are really hurting," he said. "But over here, I can afford go play golf every other day."
Here, where "America starts its day," the Army recruiting station in Guam has 4 of the Army's top 12 "producers." While small in real terms, enlistments from Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa are the nation's highest per capita. Saipan, with a population of about 60,000 American citizens and green card holders, has 245 soldiers in Iraq.
[American Samoa, population of 67,000, has lost six soldiers in Iraq, most recently Staff Sgt. Frank F. Tiai of Pago Pago on July 17. Guam has lost three. Saipan has lost one.]
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