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Army Opens Mall Recruitment Stores

The new Army Experience Center, which opens Friday at the Franklin Mills Mall, is not exactly a store, although it is trying to sell something - the military life.

Staffed by soldiers eager to share their experiences and stocked with high-tech simulators, video gaming stations and interactive exhibits, it's a new frontier in marketing for Army officials who hope to give the public a better understanding of today's military.

For instance, the Army offers more than 175 careers - from water purification specialist to intelligence analyst - but not many people know it, said chief marketing officer Edward Walters.

"We didn't think we were effectively telling that story," Walters said.

The center's opening comes even as the Army has met recruiting targets the past two years, and is on pace again this year to meet its goal of 80,000, officials said. The Army has been offering more sign-up incentives and has also relaxed rules on age and weight limits, education, and drug and criminal records, The Associated Press found last year.

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