Military Recruiters Have Gone Too Far

The Pentagon is using video games to infiltrate middle schools.

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Jesse Mendoza / Valley Morning Star / AP

A team of CyberPatriot Marine Military Academy cadets partake in the Cyber Patriot National High School Defense competition, in Harlingen, Texas, on Jan. 14, 2012,

In its rush to find the next generation of cyberwarriors, the military has begun to infiltrate our high schools and even our middle schools, blurring the line between education and recruitment. The Air Force, for example, runs a “CyberPatriot” national high school cyberdefense competition, geared toward influencing students to pursue careers in cybersecurity. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has its own annual “Digital Forensics Challenge,” in which teams of players develop their own investigative tools. But no one is as innovative in his approach as Colonel Casey Wardynski (ret.)—for 16 years the Army’s top economist and now the superintendent of schools in Huntsville, Ala.

(MORE: Recruiting Is a Tough Business)

Since January, Wardynski has been partnering with the Army’s Cyber Command to restructure the curriculum of Huntsville’s middle schools and high schools to train students to wage and defend against cyberwar. (As part of this effort, Wardynski has made Huntsville City Schools the largest all-digital school system in the U.S.; all 24,000 students use a personal computing device to connect to their digital curriculum.) Army Cyber Command, in collaboration with West Point, is providing the curriculum, along with soldier-mentors for the students.

Wardynski is uniquely positioned to connect the military with high and middle schoolers. From 1993 to 2009, he was director of the Army’s Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis at West Point, where he created the world’s first military-built video game, America’s Army. A recruiting tool aimed at 12- and-13-year-olds, the game was an immediate smash: from 2002 to 2008, it was one of the top 10 computer games in the world. New applications of the game will now be delivered to Huntsville classrooms via iPads and iPhones. And although Huntsville is the first city to implement such a program, any materials developed for the program will be provided free to “any willing primary and secondary educational entity of the United States,” according to the agreement Wardynski signed.

(MORE: Is School Just for Getting a Good Job?)

The military has long been at the forefront of the digital-curriculum movement, and it has for decades been the largest financer (by far) of educational technology. In fact, over the past century, the military has profoundly influenced educational institutions in the skills that are valued and taught, how students are evaluated and sorted, and the methods and modes of instruction. In that regard, the new era of cyberwar will inevitably determine how and what our children learn. But as state and federal education budgets are slashed in response to the collapsed economy and as the military strains to find cyber-qualified personnel, our schools and the military will undoubtedly join in an ever closer relationship.

But this interweaving of military technology, ideology and money poses a potential risk to students everywhere and should be critically examined by parents and educators alike. A military career is not a game. More to the point, the stealth recruitment and militarization of young minds is not  game, and it should not be treated as such by school officials in charge of guiding our children’s future.

31 comments
VITW
VITW

At what point did we start villianizing our military and cooperative programs they institute? It's always good to question authority, our government, what's true and hold people accountable but the military has been forming partnerships for science, mathematics, technology and engineering for decades, especially when it's in the future interests of the nation. Most of the tech you use everyday from the internet, cell phones, hell, even the invention of candy covered chocolate M&Ms owes a nod to the military most likely. And as for the comment about military service not being a game, relax. Kids are sharp and they know you can't be a soldier, fireman, policeman, astronaut, or base jumper without putting yourself in danger. There are many professions and activities that can be very dangerous but people choose to take risks even when they are given all information because they feel their actions are worth the risks. I've noticed that of late. You don't see people complaining too much about Forza recruiting kids into becoming formula 1 racers and driving too fast or Grand Theft auto producing droves of criminals from unsuspecting teenagers. I suspect most articles like this likely have a beef with the govt or military already and they don't want their kids to hear, see, or experience anything that might interest them in the US military. So rather than inviting the organizers of such educational programs to an interview and asking the hard questions directly, they instead speculate and make everything sound like a conspiracy to try to elicit readership. Suggestion: how about being a good journalists , interviewing Cyber Command, Colonel Wardynaki and Mr. Scoch and writing an article about what you find. Otherwise I might deem journalism a threat and danger to future generations and petition for its removal in all forms from our classrooms. Sorry, that last part was sarcasm.

Cody_rocks24
Cody_rocks24

These are just a few of the things since WW2, need to remeber the people who have been fighting for us since then

Cody_rocks24
Cody_rocks24

@1thinkitthrough

Operation PBFORTUNE, Guatemala, 1952
Operation Ajax, US overthrow of Iranian Government, 1953
Operation PBSUCCESS, Guatemala, 1954
Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba, 1961
Operation Powerpack, Dominican Republic, 1965 - 1966
Korean War, 1950 - 1953
United States overthrow of Guatemalan Government, 1907-1933 
United States Intervention at Panama Canal, 1958
Vietnam War, 1962 - 1973 
Cambodian Civil War, 1969 - 1970
United States Overthrow of Chilean Government, 1964 
First Gulf of Sidra Incident, Libya, 1981 
Iran-Iraq War, 1987 - 1989 
Second Gulf of Sidra Incident, Libya, 1989
Persian Gulf War, Iraq, 1991
Operation Desert Shield, 1991
Operation Desert Storm, 1991 
Yugoslav wars, 1994 - 1999
Bosnian Conflict, 1994 - 1995 
War on Terrorism, 2001 - present  
Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003 - present
Waziristan War, 2004 - present
War in Somalia, 2006 - present
Operation Iraqi Freedom - Trans Sahara 2007 - present

jeandeaux
jeandeaux

a training school for soldiers.  seems just a bit wonky.

1thinkitthrough
1thinkitthrough

Unfortunately, people in the military have been brainwashed to think they are serving their country, but in reality they are just serving the government and it's agenda... it's a shame that people have risked their health and lives for such nonsense. Military personnel are true victims.  WWII was the last time anyone in the military served/protected this country.

papagil
papagil

one question? Would you rather have a draft?

lacolombian1968
lacolombian1968

Interesting article, but very one-sided. In this day an age, I have a hard time believing no person enlisting in the military does NOT have a clue what he/she is getting into. Unfortunately for you peace-lovers, our country, national security departments, and law enforcement agencies still require personnel to "stand the watch"; because, evil-doers still want to destroy the USA, and Americans. Ssssooooooo....with that said, this is a great tool our military is mildly utilizing to streamline the best candidates for the security of our nation. Remember, we are one of the very few countries that has an ALL VOLUNTARY military - no citizen is required to serve. Keep that in mind folks, when you start bashing away at our military personnel, and our law enforcement officers.

aspendougy
aspendougy

First Vietnam,  and now Iraq and Afghanistan all were/are emerging as strategic defeats for the U.S. Military.  Awhile back, a pro-military, conservative talk show host in San Diego interviewed an Iraqi shopkeeper who had lived there 40 years, and raised a family.  He said that although Saddam was a thug, life overall was a paradise under his regime compared to what we replaced it with. 

Hopefully, these kids are learning this in school, and will think twice about joining the U.S Military.  Although the services still attract many patriotic and self-sacrificing young people, the moral and ethical compass of the higher leadership has declined since Vietnam.

In WW II, the U.S. military executed about 150 soldiers for raping French women.  (It was virtually unknown for the German occupiers to do so)  Can you imagine the Military actually holding its soldiers accountable for capital crimes now?

aspendougy
aspendougy

Firs Vietnam,  and now Iraq and Afghanistan all were/are emerging as strategic defeats for the U.S. Military.  Awhile back, a pro-military, conservative talk show host in San Diego interviewed an Iraqi shopkeeper who had lived there 40 years, and raised a family.  He said that although Saddam was a thug, life overall was a paradise under his regime compared to what we replaced it with. 

Hopefully, these kids are learning this in school, and will think twice about joining the U.S Military.  Although the services still attract many patriotic and self-sacrificing young people, the moral and ethical compass of the higher leadership has declined since Vietnam.

In WW II, the U.S. military executed about 150 soldiers for raping French women.  (It was virtually unknown for the German occupiers to do so)  Can you imagine the Military actually holding its soldiers accountable for capital crimes now?

AnnPetersAnderson
AnnPetersAnderson

Infiltrate?  The last time I checked, the U.S. military was not the enemy...  I certainly wasn't the enemy when I was on active duty..

KateBuccella
KateBuccella

As a JROTC cadet, I have a few issues with this article: Firstly, the picture. Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas, is NOT  in any way, shape, or form a public school. It is a private military school, so obviously it would be more closely affiliated with the military. Secondly, the whole point of CyberPatriot is not to recruit kids; it's designed to get them interested in programming and cybersecurity, two fields that are in demand today. And thirdly, he seems to be attacking programs such as JROTC. They specifically state when you join the program that you are under no obligation whatsoever to join the military when you finish, and I have plenty of friends who have no intention of going the military route after college or high school.

TheodoreP.Savas
TheodoreP.Savas

Yet another reason why I don't read Time magazine. I didn't realize this was Time until I finished, and doubled the source. So anti-military it is disgusting.

DanielVillarrealJr
DanielVillarrealJr

Yeah Corey maybe we should all just join hands, sing a song and hope we for a miraculous defense against Cyber-attack...

janvones
janvones

What the military should really be on about is providing sex-change therapy for its prisoners, and promising such benefits to new recruits if they should be convicted in a court martial and do time.

CyberPatriot
CyberPatriot

There are several serious factual errors in this piece.

First, CyberPatriot is not a "rush to find cyberwarriors."  The program is focused on stimulating interest among high school and middle school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to feed the technical workforce in every segment of the American economy, including manufacturing, banking, retail, logistics, public safety, and the government. It is decidedly NOT a military recruitment program.

Second, the Air Force does not run CyberPatriot. The program is run by the non-profit Air Force Association, a 501(c)(3) formed in 1946 that has as its objectives educating the American public (including advocating for STEM education), advocating for a strong Air Force, and supporting military members and their families.

And finally, the caption on the photo at the top of the page is wrong.  The students are not "hacking into vulnerabilities."  They are securing a virtual network; that's what our competition is about:  Teaching defensive skills.  Hacking is neither taught nor permitted in CyberPatriot.

Full details are available at www.uscyberpatriot.org

Bernie Skoch

CyberPatriot Commissioner

Air Force Association

CharlieFoxtrot
CharlieFoxtrot

@Cody_rocks24 And what on earth do places like Cambodia and Yugoslavia have to do with Americans here at home????

Chariotdrvr14
Chariotdrvr14

@papagil Would you rather have a generation of kids who see themselves as willing cannon fodder?

CharlieFoxtrot
CharlieFoxtrot

@papagil It's not an either/or proposition.  Most americans would simply chuck their draft notices in the garbage anyways.  We don't need a standing army anymore with the technology we have nowadays.

CharlieFoxtrot
CharlieFoxtrot

@lacolombian1968


"Unfortunately for you peace-lovers, our country, national security departments, and law enforcement agencies still require personnel to "stand the watch"; because, evil-doers still want to destroy the USA, and Americans."


What "evil-doers" would those be?  Vietnam, Korea, Panama, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan?  No it has to be the Canadians!  Lol!


Find those WMD's yet slick?

lacolombian1968
lacolombian1968

I was wondering when someone was going to make the correction.

Mulva
Mulva

@CyberPatriot Something tells me you couldn't be objective about Corey's points even if you wanted to.

Cody_rocks24
Cody_rocks24

i was simply showing that we have been in alot of conflicts since WW2 showing that his information was incorrect

papagil
papagil

@CharlieFoxtrot they are in Syria. think about that, explains a lot. Russians didn't want ther WMD's discovered in Iraq. Ship em to Syria. Syria get's in the crossshairs and old Putin new he could hold the americans off

CharlieFoxtrot
CharlieFoxtrot

@Cody_rocks24 The number of conflicts that this country has been involved in post-1945 is not the issue.  He's simply saying that WWII was the last time that we fought to protect this country.


And he's right.

CharlieFoxtrot
CharlieFoxtrot

@papagil  Stop watching television and think for yourself.  When you find these WMD's let me know...............