Refusing War, Reinforcing the Movement

Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World
By Aimee Allison and David Solnit
Seven Stories Press, 2007
224 pages, $14.95, paperback

How can a movement rooted in the community on a local or regional level have a large enough impact that it could end up transforming the way society functions?

The counter recruitment movement has the potential to launch each a transformation, as antiwar activists realize that working locally and regionally can affect the way things work nationally.  For the past few years, military recruitment has gone down and the cultural of war is being challenged by people from all walks of life, thanks to the tireless work of antiwar activists across the country.

The counter recruitment movement has many faces - longtime activists, veterans, youth of color, grandmothers and community organizers - all working toward a common purpose: ending the militarization of our schools, communities and society in general.

“We believe that a hundred thousand marching every six months is not as effective as one thousand people talking to students every day,” asserts the book Army of None, a thorough counter recruitment guide written by Aimee Allison and David Solnit.

Army of None is a book that provides “strategies to counter military recruitment, end war, and build a better world.”  The book is a simple but not simplistic” guide to all things counter recruitment.  It emphasizes the movement as one that is a “strategic approach to challenging the roots of unending war” and not just simply a tactic to end the current wars.

The book is divided into three sections: military recruitment, counter recruitment, and people power and strategic organizing for a sustainable movement.

The military recruitment section dissects and exposes the lies and tricks used by recruiters to entice young people to sign up for a military service.  It details all the usual and unusual tactics they use.  It also provides useful data and many ways to contest the authority of such recruiters.

The counterrecruitment section understands that the military recruiter is not and should not be the only target of the movement; there are many players at all levels that support the militarization of society, including school counselors, principals and boards, and state and federal governments, among others. It also recognizes that current enemies could potentially become allies if facts on military recruitment face public scrutiny.  The section emphasizes relationship building and youth and veteran activism as essential to effective organizing.

People power and strategic organizing is the down-and-dirty segment: it offers various examples of possible campaign strategies, workshops, and tactics that could be used by activists and groups in their schools and communities.  It also breaks down the “pillars of war” in a clear and understandable manner.

Perhaps the best element of the book is that it offers concrete examples of counterrecruitment work being done in diverse parts of the country, from coast to coast.

It cites experiences by students who have been targeted by recruiters and others who have joined JROTC or signed up for the Army and have been positively affected by counterrecruiters.

It talks to longtime organizers who have been successful in their communities.  It offers examples of groups that have actually shut down military recruitment centers and have limited recruiters’ access to school grounds.  It is important to show new or soon-to-be activists that they are not alone and that there is a large movement with valuable background and information to share.

Army of None serves as a strategy guide for youth and activists in general who are new to counterrecruitment and as a document for those who are already doing the work but need some reinforcement.

It is very effective in its approach to explaining the roots of military recruitment and of a movement that is diverse and dispersed throughout the country.  The counterrecruitment movement is full of potential and promise, thanks to dedication of activists and the ways they are applying actions and across the country.

Army of None serves as a solid base for the counterrecruitment movement.



Ivan Broida

Ivan Broida is a member of the Caribbean Project for Justice and Peace and is on the Advisory Board of the Not Your Soldier Project.