October 13, 2017 / 5:50 PM / 9 months ago

Despite deaths, German military eyes recruitment bump from new reality show

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German military, buoyed by 45 million views of its previous social media reality show “The Recruits”, is to launch a new show on Monday that shows the lives of eight soldiers serving in U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali.

The six-week show provides a “realistic and authentic look” at an actual military deployment, including the crash of an Airbus Tiger helicopter in July that killed both crew members, a defence ministry spokesman said on Friday.

It will be shown Mondays through Thursdays on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, with a chatbot sending messages several times a day about the soldiers’ activities.

Colonel Holger Neumann said the accident would play a role in one of the later episodes and would be treated with “the necessary sensitivity”.

The military last month resumed flights of the Tiger helicopters, but continues to investigate the cause of the crash.

The show cost 6.5 million euros to produce and market, Neumann said, describing it as part of the military’s drive to make the military a more attractive career option.

The last show, which showed how new recruits were trained, sparked a 40-percent increase in traffic at the ministry’s career website and a 25-percent boost in calls to a recruitment hotline, he said.

Ilka Hoffmann, a board member at the GEW union that represents about 280,000 teachers, social workers and education workers, said the new programme’s “action film” aesthetic was clearly targeting young people and glamorising war.

“Not everything is as positive as it is portrayed. People can die during this deployment or come back traumatised,” she said. “The Bundeswehr can’t want people to sign up out of a sense of adventure.”

She said the union, the nonprofit group Terres des Hommes and other groups have also protested the military’s school outreach programme aimed at 16- and 17-year-olds, saying it viewed the recruitment drive as a violation of U.N. Convention on Children.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal

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