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Armed F-18 Escort for NORAD’s Santa Tracker Alarms Child Advocates

December 8, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in US Military & Veterans with 0 Comments

Some child welfare advocates are seeing red over the military’s decision to add an armed fighter jet escort to a popular annual ‘Santa Tracker’ program for kids.

The Boston Globe reports the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s NORAD Tracks Santa, an annual corporate-sponsored, Christmas-themed program that has been entertaining children since 1955, has added an F-18 fighter escort for St. Nick’s sleigh this year. According to the Globe, the program, which allows children and parents to “track Santa” in real-time as he leaves the North Pole to deliver presents to nice children around the world on Christmas Eve, reached 22 million people last year and generated tens of thousands of calls from excited children and their parents across America.

Navy Capt. Jeff A. Davis told the Globe that the addition of the F-18s is “part of our effort to give the program more of an operational feel.”

Among a series of video clips produced for the program is one showing troops ‘preparing for Santa’s flight.’

“Intel can confirm that Jack Frost and the Abominable Snowman will not be a threat,” one of the videos states. “Anti-Grinch viral is up and will continue to monitor threats,” says a cyber warfare specialist. Other troops are tasked with checking rooftops to ensure Santa– code name ‘Big Red One’– doesn’t run into any nasty surprises as he makes his rounds.

It all seems rather cheery and light-hearted. But this is a military operation.

“It’s still cutesy since it’s for kids, but we don’t want people to lose sight of our true mission,” Capt. Davis explained to the Globe.

Being that the US military’s “true mission” often involves death and destruction– US forces have killed more innocent civilians in more foreign countries than any other organization on earth over the past 50 years– Some child welfare advocates are crying foul over the Pentagon’s militarization of Santa Claus and Christmas.

“I think people are quite aware of the military’s true mission,” Amy Hagopian, a professor of public health at the University of Washington who has compared military recruiters to child predators, told the Globe. “If the military wants to keep its ranks stocked, it needs to appeal to children.”

“Children associate Santa with gifts and fun and everything else that is positive about Christmas,” Allen Kanner, co-founder of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), told the Globe. “They are associating this with the military in children’s minds. It is completely out of line.”

“What we have to remember is that the military has been hiring marketing companies for many years to best reach youngsters under 18 for the sole purpose of recruitment,” Kanner added. “They also know you can develop something called brand loyalty– from birth to death.”

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