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Home | Thursday 17th September 2009 | Issue 691

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The US Army has always targeted the young, poor and disadvantaged when deciding how to shell out on recruitment drives, but their latest big gun may end up exploding in their faces.

The hilariously named ‘Army Experience Center’ opened earlier this month inside a shopping mall in one of less respectable areas of Philadelphia, a fertile ground for canon fodder in the past.

The uber hi-tech interior and free gaming zone – including goes on the actual simulation hardware used to train real soldiers - is all designed to lure in the youngsters and put them in a excited, emotionally aroused state. And then softy, softly hard sell them. The real sweetener on offer is to sign up in return for the army paying your college fees - get out of the ghetto and on your way to the American dream...

But, by establishing and then advertising their permanent (and expensively kitted out) presence, the infallible US Army (current slogan ‘Army Strong’™) have committed the obvious error of giving their position away. And this hasn’t escaped the notice of anti-militarists, who have been turning up regularly in their hundreds to protest at the sheer crass obscenity of it all.

Activists have been maintaining a regular siege on the building. Last weekend police felt it necessary to steam in and nick six protesters and a journalist (all for practically no reason), who will now face criminal conspiracy and failure to disperse charges. But it’s all been terrible PR for the army - who also wouldn’t want potential gullible recruits to be educated about a few things before they get their hands on them.

Forced into another ‘tactical withdrawal’, the army has had to announce it will shortly be closing the AEC and not opening more in other malls, as previously planned. Back to more Guerilla style recruitment, popping up in mall carparks looking for fresh meat eh boys?

* For a jaw-dropping (and blackly amusing) ‘experience’ of the blatant manipulation still currently on offer, take a virtual tour at

Keywords: philadelphia, us military, war games


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