One of the less pleasant aspects of American history has been the forced conscription of civilians into the military. Change came about in 1973 when the military became an army of “volunteers”, in that no person could be forced by the government to give military service. This was seen as a civil and human rights victory for the people of America. Since then, ever expanding wars in the Middle East based on the phony pretext of the War on Terrorism has made getting young people to volunteer for the imperialist war machine has become increasingly more difficult.
As a result there has been a great change in how the army recruits young people into a life of service. Military testing in U.S. high schools has been known about for some time, news outlets like USA Today and NPR Radio have exposed as much in the past. However according to a Common Dreams article, the practice of mandatory testing is largely unnoticed.
Right now the US military uses the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB as an entry exam. This same test is used in about 12,000 high schools across America. It is a three hour test designed to determine the right place in the military for a new recruit. This same test is being given to high school students with the express purpose of collecting “sensitive, personal information on more than 660,000 high school students” every year. These test are given without parental permission or even knowledge, to students most of whom are under the age of 18. In the schools they call it the ASVAB Career Exploration Program.
According to the article the ASVAB is encouraged for students in 11,000 schools as a way of determining a possible future career. However according to information obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request, in 1,000 schools, tens of thousands of students are being forced to take the test. This is a violation of civil liberties that has been going on since the 1960s, due largely because it has been mostly unnoticed.
This also violates military recruiting regulations that is supposed to ban mandatory testing:
“Voluntary aspect of the student ASVAB: School and student participation in the Student Testing Program is voluntary. DOD personnel are prohibited from suggesting to school officials or any other influential individual or group that the test be made mandatory. Schools will be encouraged to recommend most students participate in the ASVAB Career Exploration Program. If the school requires all students of a particular group or grade to test, the MEPS will support it.”
(See Page 3-1 of USMEPCOM Reg. 601-4)
In addition to this, the Pentagon is deliberately under-reporting the number of schools with mandatory testing. According to the article “[t]here are hundreds of schools with required testing that are not reported by the DoD. For instance, the information released by the DoD for the ’09-’10 school year shows there is no mandatory testing in Ohio.” Despite this, a Google search shows dozens of schools that are not reported by the Pentagon.
The intrusion of professional militaries into civilian educational institutions is a violation of the rights of people not to be involved in the imperialist war machine. Every citizen has the right to refuse military service regardless of what country they live in. More situations like this are going to become more common as the bourgeois become increasingly desperate to recruit soldiers to prop up world capital. As bought and paid for regimes begin to fall across the globe to people’s power it, will require more and more manpower on the part of the US in the form of military action to hold onto it.
Militaries out of educational institutions now. Schools are supposed to be a haven for free thought not imperialism.
Origional Common Dreams article:
Army regulation prohibiting mandatory testing:
Schools that make it mandatory: