Despite Times Square incident, the military says enlistment centers are key to recruiting.
New York; and Oakland, Calif.
The stern, determined portrait of Uncle Sam, announcing "I want you," glares out at potential recruits from the military recruiting station in Times Square. Only this time, there is a blackened and distorted doorway next to it – the result of an early-morning bomb on Thursday.
Officials say that such efforts are not going to deter them: Military recruiting stations remain one of the main ways to meet enlistment quotas. Military officials also maintain that the centers are part of the fabric of America – a way for civilians to interact with members of the armed services.
"Sometimes it's the only military presence in a community," says Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, a spokeswoman for the US Army, which has 1,650 recruiting centers in the United States. "It may be the only way to see someone in uniform and is crucial for the volunteer Army."
However, there have been some isolated incidents at recruiting stations, aside from the bombing. Last month, 2,000 protesters descended on Berkeley, Calif., many in support of the military, after the City Council voted 6 to 3 to draft a letter to local Marine recruiters calling them unwelcome intruders. The council had also pledged to facilitate protests by the antiwar group Code Pink outside the downtown Marine recruiting office.
The council's action garnered attention nationally, prompting a deluge of e-mails and phone calls to city hall. Six Republican US senators threatened to cut federal funding for some Berkeley programs.
Police in riot gear broke up street confrontations and arrested four protesters. The city council eventually rescinded the letter. Still, antiwar protests continue, while local businesses complain of a boycott by some residents upset that the City Council has not apologized for the original letter vote.
In December, students in Jericho, Vt., organized a protest against military recruitment in their schools, particularly the handover of their contact information by school officials. About 40 protesters entered an Army National Guard recruiting office and some refused to leave, resulting in 13 arrests.