Recruiters Lie, People Die

US Marine Corps Recruiting Officer: 'I don't make any promises' By Mike Fuller, Special for Prensa Latina

An interview with US Marine Corps Sergeant Nate Nagler of the Armed Forces Recruiting Office in Rome, New York.

Rome, New York.-- 'If you come in here you're probably already decided,' says Sergeant Nate Nagler, the friendly crewcutted staffer behind the US Marine Corps desk at the Armed Forces Recruiting Office last November in Rome, New York.

With two years experience signing people up, the former food services accountant has guided young enlisters to non-combatant positions like supply work and mechanic jobs or straight to the front lines for 'snooping and pooping.' Once upon a time this 28 year-old self-confessed 'army brat' almost saw some action himself, and assuming a rifle-carrying position in front of his martial arts training diploma on the wall, explains how he and his platoon were once poised for invasion in the Middle East. They never were deployed, unlike the 135 who died in Iraq last November, and his one-month old son will probably be thankful for that someday.

Being from a military family can cause psychological trauma, and the category of 'Army Brat' can be found in profiling schema alongside 'abused as a child, anxiety attacks and compulsive activities.' Another member of a military family, singer Michelle Shocked, rebelled against her father in the song Playing the Game, with the following selected lyrics: Kids play the games in the alleys after school Yeah rich folks play the game but they think they rule Generals play the game, they call it war Oh my old man played the game and that's for sure There are other parents from Rome who are seeing plenty of action, like Major Scott Mikulski, currently on leave here. The Rome Daily Sentinel’s front page yesterday showed him visiting his 2nd grade daughter’s school, where he was 'emotionally appreciative' for the reception.

The Major was in Iraq last month in charge of 120 soldiers on a bomb squad and goes back this month. He was slated to 'return for good' in February, but that may change since the military announced yesterday it was going to expand forces in Iraq. It will extend several tours, many exceeding by several months the 12-month standard.

Nagler the recruiter met the criteria for the training school in California and now talks the talk that gets the rookies past the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test (ASVAB) and into their cammies.

This test screens enlistees for a program that allegedly pushes them 'beyond their own perceived limits and thus redefines the potential of their abilities,' as written in one of the many blurbs by private publishers that advertise on the official website. Rife with com mercial announcements that offer tips on pushup improvement, elite workouts and cheap life insurance policies, the site claims the 3 hour test measures word knowledge, mathematics, general science, mechanical comprehension and more.

Regarding conscription incentive, Sergeant Nagler said 'We have money, but we don’t market financial reward, rather opportunity to better oneself.' When asked if all those bullets flying in Iraq are bad for business, he said the war hurts all the Armed Forces.

Responding to a query about how he handles apprehensive interviewees, the sergeant says he wouldn't want to die either and tries to steer them into a lighter assignment. But he says, 'Brother, I don't make any promises. I tell them to remember they are joining the military.' Apart from giving people 'a job that pays the bills,' the military official says it provides opportunity, and explains how he loves it when a kid comes back and thanks him.

But not everyone is so grateful, and he explains how he 'gets hung up on, threatened, and things can get pretty crazy. 'Brother,' he says, 'you have to have tough skin on this job, but we're people too.' He speaks of discipline, defending the US constitution and the 'right to express one's opinion,' but is at a loss for words when asked how that relates to this country's current operations overseas.

Regardless of the moral or strategic underpinning of this war, even the Pentagon admits more than 1 245 US personnel have been killed and unconfirmed estimates of civilian losses top 14 000.

'Brother, I have a feeling we're going to' be fighting terror forever,' laments this conduit to battle in foreign lands, but says he has no opinion as to exactly why his country is in Iraq.

'I know lots of innocent people there needed help,' he says, and that he just hopes someday his son has the same rights as he does.

When popped with the million dollar question, ‘does he ever feel guilty for sending a kid a kid to his death?’ he emphatically says:

'No. Once he joins it's up to him. I don’t hold no one's fate. We give them the best training in the world. '

» Find more of the online edition.