The posters are great!
Hey, I said c'mon!
The Canadian Forces needs thousands of new recruits to survive. Too bad the great causes (and great posters) of the past seem to be gone forever
Any day now, the Canadian Forces will unveil its latest recruiting campaign in a bid to flesh out the ranks in the face of skyrocketing attrition and plummeting morale.
The problem, apparently, is a diminished desire among Canada's spiky-haired youth to heed the call to service. Indeed, the Canadian Forces' insufficient ability to attract and retain new recruits has already begun to have an effect on operations.
In December, the perennially cash-strapped Canadian navy announced it was forced to take the proud ship HMCS Huron off sea duty due to a pressing lack of sailors to crew her.
At the time, Lieutenant-Commander Chris Henderson, a navy spokesman, said the move was the result of lacklustre recruiting efforts that have left the Pacific fleet with 267 fewer sailors than it requires.
"It's something we have to do," he said. "We don't have enough people to sail the other ships in our fleet and you end up moving people from ship to ship just to keep the fleet going."
The problem is not limited to the navy: Last year, the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry lost 90 of its 650 soldiers to attrition. Lieutenant-Colonel Marv Makulowich, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, said he is expecting that number to swell to as many as 200 soldiers in the coming year.
In an effort to stave off these defections, the Canadian Forces over the last two years has launched a series of initiatives designed to improve the quality of life for our overworked, underpaid troops and staunch the outward flow of its highly trained soldiers.
It's a far cry from the old days, when Canadians took the Queen's shilling without a second thought to quality of life -- choosing to serve the nation come what may.
During the Second World War, Canada had more than a million men under arms, and that number was even greater during the First. Today, we have fewer than 60,000.
Obviously, recruits are more likely to sign up when there's a well-defined bogeyman (Hitler, Communism) threatening us good guys. The trick is to attract recruits now, in 2001. And so it was with fanfare that the Canadian Forces announced a campaign this year to recruit as many as 7,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen -- a program the Forces admits is critical to its survival.
But in the age of sporting gear advertisements that shout "No fear" and "Just do it," it's hard to believe that such slogans as "Working together to build our team" or "Diversity: Your pride, your future, your move" will prove to be the rallying cry our youth will heed.
Gone, it seems, from the recruiting sergeant's vocabulary are the military action words that at turns enticed and shamed two generations of young men to risk their lives on the killing fields of Fortress Europe. Gone, too, are the striking images that fired a nation to rally 'round its flag and offer her sons in its defence.
The historical Canadian recruiting posters shown here stand in stark contrast to the modern crop of recruitment ads. In a current poster (see the bottom right corner of the opposite page), two officers peer through binoculars from the bridge of their ship as an empty sea stretches out behind them. The poster claims there is "Adventure, challenge, career ... as an officer." Another officer is depicted climbing into the cockpit of his CF-18 Hornet jet fighter, as another peers squint-eyed through a sextant.
They are military images, as the streaking, artistically rendered war planes atop the poster attest, but they have nothing on the recruiting posters of wars gone by.
The most striking image on this page -- the one that most caught my eye -- is that of a Second World War soldier rearing on his motor bike as he races up a hill. He is headed, we know, into battle, racing two others on their mechanized steeds to be the first to the punch.
In shadowy background, this soldier's military forbearer struggles to control his own rearing mount -- a muscled white war horse -- helm upon his head, shield and lance under one arm, charging forward to join the battle. "Notre Armée: A besoin de bons Canadiens," the poster screams: "Our Army: In need of good Canadians."
[ 30 April 2001: Message edited by: bossi ]