Army Recruiters Take Show On Road

The crowd at a Texas mall is crying out for Batista, one of the Incredible Hulks of professional wrestling. It's a "Smackdown" event presented in part by the Army National Guard, hoping to pluck a few recruits out of the long line of autograph seekers.

"There's a desire, a real strong need to get face time with the people that we want to get into the Army National Guard, says Lt. Jacob Humble.

As CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports, the fans are here for face time with Batista, but what some of them get is pull-up time with Humble. Whoever does the most gets free tickets to a World Wrestling Entertainment match.

But every contestant has to fill out a form with name, address and phone number. And you can be sure it won't be long before they hear from an Army recruiter.

Young adults used to say "no" to recruiters because they didn't want to give up their personal freedom for military discipline. Now, there's a much more basic reason: fear of being killed or wounded in combat.

At the San Antonio Rodeo, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker rides in with country music star George Strait to swear in new recruits.

The idea is to showcase the Army at events attended by young adults, and west of the Mississippi that means rodeos. The Army just happens to have the world champion bull rider in its ranks, and he just happens to do his victory dance right in front of the goarmy.com sign.

East of the Mississippi, it's NASCAR races, which last year produced 40,000 leads to potential recruits. But the Army needs about 150,000 new soldiers every year.

Whether it's arena football or a high school all-star game, it takes nearly $16,000 worth of promotion just to sign up one new soldier. That will only get more expensive as the Army sends out some 6,000 recruiters to convince young men and women to wear the uniform.
  • Jaime Holguin

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