America’s Army Exhibit Replaced at Music Festival Following Protests

The U.S. Army has removed a combat simulator from its display tent at Wisconsin’s Summerfest music festival following complaints that the exhibit glorified war.

As reported by Milwaukee’s Fox-6, the original display, which allowed players to sit in a HumVee and fire simulated weapons at realistic human combatants, has been replaced by one in which players shoot at inanimate targets.

Protests over the Army display began with a pair of groups, Veterans for Peace and Peace Action Wisconsin. Julie Enslow, a spokesperson for Peace Action Wisconsin, told Fox-6: 

[War] is not a game… and it should not be presented as such. Especially at Summerfest.

 The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more:

Under the combat scenario initially presented in the game, fest-goers as young as 13 could hop into a Humvee simulator and fire machine guns at near life-size human likenesses on a computer screen.


According to a description of the game on the Army’s Web site, an Army ground task force attempts to rescue trapped aid workers and refugees in the imaginary city of “Nradreg” from a “well-armed genocidal faction.”


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  1. Grendal says:

    I’ve always wondered if the army actually has gotten any boost to recruitment from the AA game. It would be interesting to see statistics and if there was any effect.

  2. Funky J ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Instead of this, organisers have invited Microsoft, Sony, EA and Ubisoft to the event.

    Microsoft will be showcasing Halo3, Sony showcasing Resistance Fall of Man 2, Ubisoft Rainbow 6: Las Vegas 2 and EA will be showing off Battlefield: Bad Company…

  3. Anonymous says:

    I was actually at summerfest. National Guard, Air Force, Marines, and Army have all had recruitment stations there since 2004, I believe. Also, they happen to be heavy contributors to the fest itself. Military recruitment in an area that attracts anyone between the ages of 16 to 28 is where they’re going to be. It’s an implied thing since the war started. Also, I got a few laughs making fun of the "Army Corps of Nerds" there. None of the people working the booth had been in Active Service, or even recruitment. They were actually developers, testers, consultants, etc. of the game that the Army wasted millions on, for the one or two recruits they got out of that piss poor game.

  4. Artifex says:

    You do realise that there is a big difference between the Marine Corps. and the Army, right? Just asking, because of the phrasing you’ve used it is hard to tell. Also, chances of direct combat are still slim even in ‘wartime’ because there are so many more non-combat jobs that need to filled, no matter which branch in the US military it is.

    Regardless, asking if someone is interested in getting more information about the Army after playing on the VAE is vastly, vastly different than a Recruitment Officer trying to "con" (as you put it) someone into joining voluntarily into military service. No one is lying to the people who hop into the VAE, and the people who do are told that the VAE is for entertainment purposes only.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If it wasn’t for The Last Starfighter nobody would care. Now everybody assumes that just because you win at the game you get recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Or they could have  the seat eject and land in a hotdog stand while a guy with crazy hair tries to steal an atomic bomb.

  7. Anonymous says:


     If they wanted to make a simulator for the humvee, they should have the seat violently eject at some random time interval into the game and give the occupant a concussion, ala a IED explosion. Of course you don’t want to kill the poor prospect, just remind him that war is not you just sitting at a gunners position and shooting at "human-shaped targets" time and time again. They are going to shoot back, and you are going to die.

  8. Austin_Lewis says:

    This sounds like hippies being selective in the truth they tell because they’re anti-government. 

    Violent arcades on all sides, Quake Tour one year, but the ARMY shows up and jesus christ, we’re shooting at what looks like people!

    This is ridiculous, and good on the guys running the VAE for being able to flow with the punches they were getting from the local jackasses.

  9. Khabi says:

    If this is the same one that was at PAX last year (I’m pretty sure it is, humvee, guns, etc), the ‘game’ is nowhere near as good of a recruitment tool as they make it sound.  The ‘guns’ don’t work worth, are inaccurate, and its just a very dumb simulator.

    Really, if anything, it would probably make you avoid joining the army if the level of the guns in the game are on par with a realife experience. :/

  10. Joker ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


      More liberal whining about the very people that allow them to be whining liberals.

      And while recruiters may stretch the truth, lying will only get them busted for false recruitments and those recruited can/will easily get seperated for ‘fraudulent enlistments’ IF they prove the fraud.  More often, the recruit hears what they want to hear and ignores everything else.  Or, worse yet, they fail to do their own research (like any of us would do for other jobs). 

      Note that "Marine Core" is more properly spelled ‘Marine Corps".  Anal, perhaps, but if you’re going to badmouth something, at least have the sense to spell it properly.

      Love Milwaukee, love it’s Summerfest.  But it’s too close to Madison, the midwest version of San Francisco.


      Another war veteran.





  11. elijah ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    this is the dumbest thing i am going to read hands down today.  i could understand them not wanting the army there recruiting people, thats fine and dandy.


    but complaining about "war is not a game" because the "recruitment tent" had a war simulation set up?  i find that hard to swallow.  its nothing but stupid hippies wanting to hate on the government again.  god knows how many of the people there have games like counter strike, TF2, battlefield, halo, so on and so forth at home.


    i can assure you no complaints would be made if EA had set up a booth showcasing bad company.

  12. Valdearg says:

    Unfortunately, a lot of Army recruiting is very misleading to the level of Con Artistry. My brother almost got tricked into signing into the Marine Core. I once had to step in and correct the recruiter when he told my brother that the chances of him actually going into active combat were very slim and that after his contract was done, he would get a TON of money for school and other life long benifits.. Keeping in mind that we were AT WAR at the time, and the Army’s post-service benefits are terrible, given the state of Veteran’s Hospitals, amongst other things. I basically told the recruiter to *explitive* off and go find somebody else to con into dying for thier country. If people want to actually go and Volunteer, thats one thing. But to try and cajole someone into fighting and dying for thier country using false information and omitting truths is downright wrong. I am not defending summerfest’s actions because I am against any kind of censorship, but I can certainly see why they would want to shut it down.

  13. the1jeffy says:

    First, thanks for your service.

    Second: "As part of that recruitment, they are presenting active service as a video game."

    No, just . . . no.  Nowhere, EVER, does the Army say, "Join up! It’s all fun and games, just like this one!"  Come on, you would think a veteran would have more respect for the integrity of our armed forces.

    ~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

  14. infect999 says:

    I was going to go to Summerfest this year, but I had to have surgery. But I would have liked to try this out.

    They had no reason to take away the simulator. It wasn’t meant to trick people into joining the army (I would hope that most people wouldn’t be stupid enough to think it was what the army was actually like). It doesn’t insult the people who died in the middle east. A large portion of southern Wisconsin are liberals and activists, so I guess this wasn’t unexpected.

  15. A war veteran says:

     Way to miss the point guys…

    This is an army recruitment stand. As part of that recruitment, they are presenting active service as a video game. THAT is what many found objectionable. War is a fucking cunt. Not light entertainment.



  16. Artifex says:

    I’m not defending the Radio Host, but there is a common misconception on the technology that the Army is using. "Very realistic targets"…is a bit of a stretch for a game running on a modified version of the Unreal 1.0 engine. Really, the VAE is running on an engine that is nearly 10 years old! GTA 4 makes the VAE look like Super Mario Bros. on the NES, as far as realism and detail is concerned.

    Again, not defending the conservative radio host, but the misconception that the Army is runing some sort of super advanced bleeding edge Crysis-like simulator has been bugging me every time this issue comes up.



  17. Artifex says:

    That’ll show the Army for trying to get people to volunteer for their voluntary service!


    In all seriousness, I’m glad that the Army didn’t just pack up the VAE and leave, and instead they changed their plans a little and stuck it out. It’s hard enough for the Army to find people who are interested in joining. I really don’t understand these ‘peace’ groups that insist that merely asking people to be interested in potentially volunteering their time to serve their country is somehow a horrible action. Or that trying to show off Army life in an interesting and entertaining way will somehow trick poor youngsters into joining on the spot? (and yes, the guys running the VAE will tell you that it isn’t even close to what service is really like in the Army and make it very clear that the VAE is for entertainment only.) 

    Would these groups be more content if there was forced enrollment, so that the Army doesn’t have to ask anymore?

  18. Valdearg says:

    There was a Conservative Talk Radio host making a HUGE deal about this yesterday. I live in Milwaukee and, if I would have had the free time, I would have gone to Summerfest. (GREAT festival, BTW, for anyone that lives in the North Central US) I was getting frustrated, because he was making a big deal about how they let people play Grand Theft Auto and "Kill Cops" but they Censor the Army Game, where you are handling a "Real Gun" and shooting at very realistic Targets. There is a difference between handling a controller and a simulated 50 caliber Humvee Mounted Machine gun. I lost a lot of respect for that Radio Host that day.. Then again, I didn’t have much to begin with ><

  19. Weatherlight says:

    Well having lived in the Milwaukee area and attend and working at summerfest. It is a festival that centers around music, however they have all types of other venues of entertainment. Including demonstrations of all kinds, shows, food, rides, games.

    I personally have seen some of the other military exhibits, which have included a flying simulator (where you could shoot down aircraft, later toned down to flying procedures and maneuvers) and a laser-air rifle (simulates feedback to user using air). These exhibits were also contested at the time, and the military thought it was in their best interest to tone it down.

    I have no problem with them removing "human likenesses" targets however I find it stupid seeing as we did have the Quake Tour appear at summerfest two years ago, where kids ages 13 and up could play a rated M game (with parents premmision) for hours on end. If the objection is to the age of the participants the army is letting use their simulater, there are arcades placed on both sides of the park which do include games where players can shoot at targets with "human likenesses" and there has been no objection there.

    To me this is just a bunch of people trying to get attention.  But I recommend that if you havnt already watch the video report, and go to summerfests website to get a better idea of what summerfest is all about.



  20. Charlie says:

    They should be more concerned about the drunk guy kissing the reporter. Or am I the only one that saw that?



  21. MonkeyPeaches ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Man, I should of played it when I was there sunday, course I probably would of been asked to enlist in order to play it, so maybe it’s better I didn’t.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Just so you know their is no law against the military having free speach

    And as far as I care let religion preach at public events it is their right

  23. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Devotion to duty and what revolves around it, unlike the police you spend lots of time away from home go through more rigorous training and maintain that training, as well as can be called up and shiped off somewhere at the drop of a hat, this takes mental fortitude and discipline thats not required in most other jobs, but then would you have the balls to say being in the military is just a "job"? A condensattion of 9 to 5, boot camp alone culls out the weak and unworthy that right there should tell you tis more than a job, you need both mental and physical balls(be they set low or high) of metal to handle it.

    I guess when I brought in religion I was thinking "patriotism+devotion = religion" which can be misconstrued as religion like, dose "religion" need to run solely on faith can it not run on  wisdom ,discipline or knowledge?

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)


  24. Ace ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Ofcourse the difference between doing a job, any job, and being a soldier is to what your skills are applied to. The comparison between being a police officer and a soldier is a great one. There is often some overlap in police and special response unit training and military training. However, police training is meant to be applied internally, while a military is generally meant to be the external response. That carries with it a completely different mindset, and is what I think he’s referring to.

    We can talk about the military as just another job, but I think that’d be over simplifying things.

    With no disrespect intended towards soldiers, marines or anyone working in any branch of the military. What soldiers do is radically different from what anyone else does in a society. Although I’m sure it’ll be misunderstood and taken as "hate of the army" or something, then I think I get my point across best by saying that really no one else is "realistically expected to have to kill" as an example. But please don’t take this as me trying to diss armed forces or something. That’d be missing the point entirely.

    This ofcourse coming from someone that’s never served in any armed forces and who’s nation does not have a military 😉

  25. JustChris says:

    If you mean that military service revolves around your life and it’s very risk-averse, I can think of many jobs that are also dangerous. Firefighter, foundry worker, professional boxer, oil rig operator, and police officer are just some. The only difference I can think of is the political stigma that military personnel face. Other than that, it’s no different from other occupations in training the mindset and getting into a routine.

  26. Krono says:

    Now now guys you are reading into a bit much on the religion bit,

    How so? You claimed the military was like a religion, I said no it wasn’t. That’s not me "reading into" your comparison, thats me challenging your comparison.

    suffice to say that military service is a way of life its more than just a " job".

    The same could be said of being a medical doctor. You live your life a certain way to accomodate your work. Or a job in sales that requires you to do a lot of travel. Or police or firefighters. They way anyone lives their life is shaped by what their job is.


  27. Krono says:

    Miltary service isn’t remotely like religion, and most jobs could be described as a lifestyle.

    That does not nullify their right to advertise and recruit.


  28. Belgarion89 says:

    I fail to see the lack of free speech.  Why, exactly, isn’t the Army allowed to advertise?


    So speak I, some random guy.

  29. the1jeffy says:

    How is a military psuedo simulation recruitment tool anything remotely like a religion, Zip? 

    I’m afraid you’ve lost me.

  30. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Now now guys you are reading into a bit much on the religion bit, suffice to say that military service is a way of life its more than just a " job".



    key word advertise, means to advert a service or product through someones service or product, meaning they can simply be turned away.


    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)


  31. Wisconsin says:

    Have you everbeen to summer fest in wisconsin.  Yes they have live bands but it isn’t a "music festival"

  32. Vake Xeacons ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    That’s like putting a go-cart on display and calling it a car. They may look and perform similar, but they’re still in two totally different worlds.

  33. Xlorep DarkHelm says:

    In a lot of Europe, military service is compulsary, not voluntary. At least, when I lived there for 4 years.

    "I’m not responcabel fer my comuter’s spleling errnors." — Xlorep DarkHelm

  34. SticKboy says:

    Ok, srsly – wyf are the military doing at a music festival? Doesn’t seem like a particualrly smart choice of recruitment venue. IS this type of thing common in the States? In Europe, most militaries tend to keep their heads down.

    — teh moominz —

  35. Anonymous says:

    Since they are effectively seeking employees, I would actually call it an advertisment rather than ‘speech’ as such. In the same way that I wouldn’t suggest promoting ‘101 Great Meat Dishes’ at a Vegan convention, this was not a great idea in the first place imho. You could do it, but it wouldn’t make you very popular, you’d be wiser to not encourage it.

  36. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Military recruitment is not freespeech its closer to a religion or lifestyle booth than a vendor, the reason I say that its more than a job its a way of life
     filled with fun and stern discipline, The army is a touchy subject since tis run by the old men who are more often than not war hawks not having a clue about conflict.


    In the end they can do recruitment i most palces but like "religion" and  "lifestyle" they are not going to be easily accsepcted everywhere and sometiems its better to not make a sceen and not push thigns so hard.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)


  37. the1jeffy says:

    What a bunch of crap.  First, everyone knows that war isn’t a game. Second, it’s free speech.  What irony that censorship occurs at a music festival of all places.

    ~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

  38. Beery says:

    It depends on which part of Europe you’re talking about.  There are 47 countries in Europe.  In England, where I’m from, military service is not compulsory and military recruiters probably wouldn’t be wise to go to a music festival.  In Germany, where I lived for about four years some kind of government service is required, but it can be military or non-military, depending on the individual’s preference – many European countries have a similar model.  Again, in Germany, a military recruiting drive at a music festival would probably be ill-advised.  Young Europeans (whether or not they live in countries with conscription) tend to be rather cynical about the military.

  39. Mabuti says:

    I would agree.  It was voluntarily removed.  Pressured by protestors but not forced to be removed.

  40. Weatherlight says:

    I just want to interject so there is no confusion that it was a paid display, meaning the army had to rent the space.


  41. Spellchk says:

    Quite true.  No one told them they couldnt be there.  I assume by the fact that they were there in the first place that they were welcome by the people who organized the event.  However some people said they didnt like it and the Army decided it was not worth the effort and press.  No cenorship here.  Everything worked exactily how its supposed to work in our country.

  42. Malygris says:

    I don’t see this as much of a "free speech" issue. The Army is free to set up their display, the bleeding heart commie pinkos are free to protest the Army’s presence, and the Army is free to respond by either ignoring them or packing it in. There’s no censorship here, just public opinion at work.


  43. Thomas Riordan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I still don’t understand this part… "…the original display, which allowed players to sit in a HumVee and fire simulated weapons at realistic human combatants, has been replaced by one in which players shoot at inanimate targets."  How exactly does replacing the target with inanimate objects make it better somehow?  We blow up inanimate objects in war too.  The original targets were inanimate objects too regardless of what they looked like.  Drawing a face on the tin can doesn’t change the fact that it’s still just an inanimate object nor does making a target that looks like a human.  It’s not like they were using real people as targets.

    But it’s the U.S. Army.  What do they expect them to glorify?  Knitting?

    "Remember kids knowing how to fire an AK-47 and how to kill people comes in handy, but it’s not as handy as knowing how to knit this nice turtleneck sweater."

  44. DAKridER says:

    People are offended by anything because most people are extremely weak minded individuals.  Who is that offended by a game?  Why don’t they say anything about extremely explicit music at their festivals? 

  45. JustChris says:

    "[War] is not a game… and it should not be presented as such."

    Hooo boy. Or, rather, Hoh boy.  Have they seen the current-gen military shooters? You get an earful of shotgun playing the COD series.

  46. Me says:

     Speaking as a person who attended and saw the exhibit, the Army Reps were carding everyone who wanted to play, to ensure they were 18.  Also, there were several signs saying that you had to be of age to play. 


    Oh, and their was Guitar Hero 3 in the back of a Humvee right next to that.  I’m surprised PAC didn’t protest "simulated music."

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