Here is an activity that goes on in America that might surprise our non-US readers and perhaps a few of our sleepy American ones.
The US has a program of long standing (from 1916) to train pre-adults to be soldiers and feed the recruiting branches of the US military. Does this kind of program exist in any other country?
JROTC - Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
This training program is for high school students starting in the 9th grade.
I am a graduate of this program as was my father. Where we attended HS (Wyoming in the 1930's and 1969 for me). For both of us this training was MANDATORY for all boys.
...The U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps was conceived as part of the National Defense Act of 1916 in the midst of World War I. In the aftermath of that war, however, only six high schools took up the military’s offer of equipment and instructors. A senior version of ROTC, was made compulsory on many state college and university campuses, despite the then-controversial question of whether the government could compel students to take military training....
This program declined significantly during the Vietnam War and largely disappeared from high schools and shrank significantly at the University level. But when the US switched to an all volunteer military (a GIGANTIC MISTAKE btw) it became necessary to boost recruiting efforts and the programs expanded greatly.
... Yet former Defense Secretary William Cohen, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in 2000, named JROTC “one of the best recruiting devices that we could have.”
With that unacknowledged mission in hand, the Pentagon pushed for a goal first advanced in 1991 by Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: the establishment of 3,500 JROTC units to “uplift” students in high schools nationwide. The plan was to expand into “educationally and economically deprived areas.” The shoddy schools of the inner cities, the rust belt, the deep South, and Texas became rich hunting grounds. By the start of 2013, the Army alone was recycling 4,000 retired officers to run its programs in 1,731 high schools. All together, Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine JROTC units now flourish in 3,402 high schools nationwide — 65% of them in the South — with a total enrollment of 557,129 kids.
... Civic groups have raised a number of other objections to JROTC, ranging from discriminatory practices — against gays, immigrants, and Muslims, for example — to dangerous ones, such as bringing guns into schools (of all places). Some units even set up shooting ranges where automatic rifles and live ammunition are used. JROTC embellishes the dangerous mystique of such weapons, making them objects to covet, embrace, and jump at the chance to use....
This was our HS with the rifle range in the basement of the HS. I spent hours in there shooting. Often completely unsupervised. Our unit won the US HS JROTC National Championship in shooting. At our outdoor range we shot M-16's and occasionally 30 and 50 caliber machine guns. To our disappointment we were not taught to throw grenades or use mortars. Our instructor was a retired army sergeant major with 2 combat tours in Vietnam. He did not mess around and we were pretty ready when he was done with us. He assumed we were headed to Vietnam (as did we) and he explicitly stated that he was trying to make sure we survived. Real military training not just on shooting, but on patrolling, concealment, and other survival skills. This training later paid great dividends for many of us.
If many of you wonder why the US is so militaristic you might contemplate the effect of such training during your youth. I note from the figures above that 557,000 youth are in the current programs. That is likely more than are in the entire military of any European country. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/12/americas-child-soldiers-jrotc-militarizing-america.html#comment-1726365