Opinion | The military needs to stop targeting kids

U.S. military branches have begun recruiting on Twitch while vehemently denying that they’re recruiting. This is wrong on every level imaginable.



Twitch is the most popular service for live streaming in the U.S. (Daniel Constante/Dreamstime/TNS)

Peyton Downing, Opinions Editor

The U.S. military isn’t the kind of organization to ignore easy avenues for recruitment. Already notorious for targeting low income schools for recruits, the military seems to be opting to go one step beyond and get itself involved in online game streaming.

This expansion of recruitment tactics is nothing short of an unscrupulous method of tricking kids into thinking that the military is just some fun, wacky venture that can help pay your way through college.

The Army, for example, has started its own esports team that competes at various gaming conventions such as Pax West. Those who join it get sent to Fort Knox where they train as recruiters before ever competing in tournaments.

This, coupled with the fact that oftentimes the recruiters streaming on Twitch will vehemently deny that they’re attempting to recruit shows that recruiters don’t care about anything beyond getting more bodies into service.

The Army even stooped so low as to have fake giveaways that took viewers to a recruitment page. The giveaways were for an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, but when the link for them was clicked, it led to a recruitment page with no mention of any giveaway.

Twitch eventually forced the Army to stop these fraudulent giveaways, and when questioned by the video game news website, Kotaku gave no response.

What’s more is that the military may have violated first amendment rights on Twitch as well. Some people online have taken up asking recruiters about various war crimes the U.S. has committed time and ended up being banned as a result.

The ACLU claims that this is a violation of first amendment rights as this is a public space that the government is operating, much in the same way that those who hold public office can’t block people on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

This entire incident has become so large that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attempted to pass an amendment to the House Committee on Appropriations Bill to ban the military from recruiting on streaming services like Twitch.

Unfortunately, the amendment didn’t pass.

The U.S. military isn’t a stranger to propaganda, having rented out military hardware in order for creative license on Hollywood scripts for years. Captain Marvel was the most blatant form of this, being heavily promoted by the Department of Defense and Air Force in exchange for using U.S. soldiers as extras, access to military bases for scenes, and consultation.

This is just another step in a long series of the military attempting to make itself seem more marketable than it really is.

But this is on a scale that previously wasn’t accessible to the military before.

Whereas movies and other propaganda pieces would be one-off interactions, Twitch streams can go for hours. People form parasocial relationships with streamers, start to trust and look up to these people who are interested in the same kinds of things they are.

The military isn’t above lying to children and abusing this connection to make them sign on the dotted line.

There are legitimate reasons for joining the military, but this method of throwing cool, hip propaganda at people in an attempt to persuade them is just disgusting.

These recruiters aren’t going to be selling an accurate picture of what military service is like — that’s not their job. Their purpose being on Twitch is to sucker as many people as possible into joining and signing years of their life away.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.