National Guard Recruitment Pitch Leaves Out Iraq, Enlistments Soaring

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Amid pictures of men and women rescuing forest-fire and flood victims and handing out bottles of water to kids, spots touting the National Guard include these tantalizing numbers: “Up to $20,000 enlistment bonus”; “100 percent tuition assistance”; “Over 200 career fields to choose from.” These may be legitimate incentives, but the ads, in newspapers and on billboards across the country, fail to mention these number: Nearly half, 41%, of units currently fighting in Iraq are National Guard units; More than 400 guard troops have died fighting overseas since the start of the Iraq war in March 2003.

“Whether they’re going up against hurricanes, floods, blizzards or wildfires, the National Guard is always the winning team,” reads one ad, shown in the Washington City Paper, nary a mention of fighting a war overseas, not a gun in sight.

The ad campaign seems to be working. Guard recruitment is soaring, reaching record highs this month in several states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The National Guard Bureau reports that the Army Guard is at 99 percent of its 350,000 capacity and that 2006 reflects the best recruiting and retention year since 2003, when the force fell short of its recruiting goals by 20 percent.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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