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File:ArmyCareersOxford20051022 CopyrightKaihsuTai.jpg

A British Military recruitment centre in Oxford.

Military recruitment is an aspect of personnel recruitment and is the act of requesting people, usually male adults, to join a military voluntarily. Involuntary military recruitment is known as conscription. Many countries that have abolished conscription use military recruiters to persuade people to join, often at an early age. To facilitate this process, militaries have established recruiting commands. These units are solely responsible for increasing military enlistment.

Military recruitment can be considered part of military science if analysed as part of military history. Acquiring large amounts of forces in a relatively short period of time, especially voluntarily, as opposed to stable development, is a frequent phenomenon in history.

Recent cross-cultural studies suggest that, throughout the world, the same broad categories may be used to define recruitment appeals. They include war, economic motivation, education, family and friends, politics, and identity and psychosocial factors. [1]

Military psychologists are active in this process in many services and many of the principles of military psychology are employed in the selection and subsequent training of the recuits.

Wartime recruitment strategies in the US

Prior to the outbreak of World War I, military recruitment in the US was conducted primarily by individual states. [2] Upon entering the war, however, the federal government took on an increased role.

File:US Recruitment.jpg

US-Recruiting Station on Times Square, NYC

The increased emphasis on a national effort was reflected in WWI recruitment methods. Peter A. Padilla and Mary Riege Laner define six basic appeals to these recruitment campaigns: patriotism, job/career/education, adventure/challenge, social status, travel, and miscellaneous. Between 1915 and 1918, 42% of all army recruitment posters were themed primarily by patriotism [3]. And though other themes - such as adventure and greater social status - would play an increased role during World War II recruitment, appeals to serve one’s country remained the dominant selling point.

After WWII, military recruitment shifted significantly. With no war calling men and women to duty, the United States refocused its recruitment efforts to present the military as a career option, and as a means of achieving a higher education. A majority - 55% - of all recruitment posters would serve this end. And though peacetime would not last, factors such as the move to an all-volunteer military would ultimately keep career-oriented recruitment efforts in place. [4]

Recruitment without conscription

On February 20, 1970, the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force unanimously agreed that the United States would be best served by an all-volunteer military. In supporting this recommendation, the committee noted that recruitment efforts would have to be intensified, as new enlistees would need to be convinced rather than conscripted. Much like the post-WWII era, these new campaigns put a stronger emphasis on job opportunity. As such, the committee recommended “improved basic compensation and conditions of service, proficiency pay, and accelerated promotions for the highly skilled to make military career opportunities more attractive.” These new directives were to be combined with “an intensive recruiting effort.” [5] Finalized in mid-1973, the recruitment of a “professional” military was met with success. In 1975 and 1976, military enlistments exceeded expectations, with over 365,000 men and women entering the military. Though this may, in part, have been the result of a lack of civilian jobs during the recession, it nevertheless stands to underline the ways in which recruiting efforts responded to the circumstances of the time. [6]

Indeed, recommendations made by the President's Commission continue to work in present-day recruitment efforts. Understanding the need for greater individual incentive, the US military has re-packaged the benefits of the GI Bill. Though originally intended as compensation for service, the bill is now seen as a recruiting tool. Today, the GI Bill is "no longer a reward for service rendered, but an inducement to serve and has become a significant part of recruiters’ pitches.” [7]


For a description of controversies surrounding current US Military recruitment, refer to this page. It describes controversy over recruiters' honesty, potential exploitation of high-school students, military paying for education and providing job skills, and whether reformation is a better option than disassociation.

Military recruitment in the UK

Further information: Conscription in the United Kingdom and Recruitment in the British Army

During both world wars and a period after the second, military service was mandatory for at least some of the British population. At other times, techniques similar to those outlined above have been used. The most prominent concern over the years has been the minimum age for recruitment, which has been 16 for many years.[8] This has now been raised to 18 in relation to combat operations. In recent years, there have been various concerns over the techniques used in (especially) army recruitment in relation to the portrayal of such a career as an enjoyable adventure.[9][10]

See also



  • Ensign, T. (2004). America's military today: The challenge of militarism. New York, NY: New Press.


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External links


  1. Brett, Rachel, and Irma Specht. Young Soldiers: Why They Choose to Fight. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004. ISBN 1-58826-261-8
  2. Padilla, Peter A. and Mary Riege Laner. “Trends in Military Influences on Army Recruitment: 1915-1953.” Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 71, No. 4. Fall 2001421-36. Austin: University of Texas Press. Page 423
  3. Padilla, Peter A. and Mary Riege Laner. “Trends in Military Influences on Army Recruitment: 1915-1953.” Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 71, No. 4. Fall 2001421-36. Austin: University of Texas Press. Page 423
  4. Padilla, Peter A. and Mary Riege Laner. “Trends in Military Influences on Army Recruitment: 1915-1953.” Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 71, No. 4. Fall 2001421-36. Austin: University of Texas Press. Page 433
  5. The Report of the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970. Page 18.
  6. Bliven, Bruce Jr. Volunteers, One and All. New York: Readers Digest Press, 1976. ISBN 0-88349-058-7
  7. White, John B. Lieutenant Commander, US Naval Reserve, Ph. D. "The GI Bill: Recruiting Bonus, Retention Onus." Military Review, July-August 2004.
  8. BBC News | UK | Marching orders for teenage soldiers?
  9. BBC NEWS | UK | MoD denies 'war glamour' claim
  10. BBC NEWS | Education | Teachers reject 'Army propaganda'

{[enWP|Military recruitment}}