Middle East Tensions Spark Call To Duty For Some With PM-US-Gulf, Bjt
BOSTON (AP) _ The United States military buildup in Saudi Arabia has brought a rush on some recruiting stations by would-be soldiers, including many too young or too old to fight.
Sgt. Bob Armstrong at the Army recruiting center in Rochester, N.Y., said he has seen the number of potential enlistments rise from three or four people a day to five or six since the Persian Gulf crisis began.
″Qualified is another story,″ Armstrong said Monday. ″We got maybe one contract this month out of it.″
Most of the people coming to the recruiting center say they want to serve in the Middle East, but nearly all have been unqualified because they are not high school graduates or have criminal records, he said.
Most of the interest seems directed at the Army. Air Force and Navy officials reported little change in the number of would-be recruits since Iraq invaded Kuwait and thousands of U.S. troops were deployed to the Persian Gulf.
″Absolutely we’ve been getting more calls,″ said Sgt. First Class Rick Henager, an Army recruiter in Hyannis, Mass. ″We’re talking about an increase of 1,000 percent on some days.″
Henager took a call from a young man who had won a four-year college scholarship but still wanted to be a medic in the Middle East if war broke out.
″He said, ‘Look, I’m all set with my education. But if we do go to war I want to be a part of it.’ Another kid said, ’I’ve lived in this country 19 years. It’s time I started helping with the rent.‴
The Army National Guard in Toms River, N.J., is getting a flood of people who have already served their country in battle.
″We have Vietnam vets wanting to go over,″ said Sgt. Carl Tucker. ″Especially since they heard about the reserves being called in, a lot of prior service people are calling us. They figure if they can get in a reserve unit they can get called over.″
Americans are not the only ones gung ho on getting in on the action. Canadians are contacting New York recruiting stations to put in a bid for active duty.
″Just last week alone, it’s been about 20 to 25″ Canadians calling, said Sgt. Antony Byrd, an Army recruiter in Niagara Falls. ″Before, in a week’s time, we used to get maybe five.″
In order for Canadians to join the U.S. military they must hold green cards or dual citizenship, either through being a member of certain Indian tribes or having a parent who is a U.S. citizen.
Officials at the Army recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark., didn’t wait for people to come to them. They announced last week that they needed experienced soldiers for re-enlistment. And they got what they asked for.
Recruiters said they were seeking re-enlistments, and not fresh-faced first timers, just to speed up the readiness process.
″If you take a young person in now who has never been trained, it’s going to be a while before they’ll be ready to do anything. ... You’re looking at a period of maybe six months down the road,″ said John Moss, chief of advertising and public affairs for the Little Rock office.
Still, even those who know they are too young to serve or well beyond the age for military action ″just wanted to know what they could do to help ... and I think that was great,″ Moss said.