Given the history of the popular tagline “Be All You Can Be” — plus the highly motivational “Army Strong” slogan of 2006 and then the early 2000s counterintuitive “Army of One” — you’d think U.S. Army Public Relations and the Recruiting Command would have learned from the past.
But as an Army veteran, I can say the Big Green Machine can take even the simplest of concepts and contort it in such a way that it doesn’t quite resemble sentient thought.
Just speaking bluntly.
An example of this is a major general and the head of the Recruiting Command’s use of the word “awesome” with two exclamation points in a tweet as if channeling a junior high school cheerleader.
See what I mean right here:
— MG Frank Muth (@USAREC_CG) November 9, 2019
No doubt this individual is a brave and noble soldier.
Now, welcome to the Army’s new motto, which was rolled out last week: “What’s Your Warrior?”
No, that’s not a lame game-show title. It’s the Army’s attempt to appeal to today’s Gen Z types by stressing cyber and other rear-echelon occupations — all in an effort to distract these young people from the fact that lots of soldiers these days have been crawling around dangerous foreign valleys or driving along Middle Eastern dirt roads trying desperately not to get killed while simultaneously executing their missions.
But the Army thinks that’s less important to talk about than — gaming!
The US Army has struggled to recruit new soldiers and justify its $400 million annual #advertising budget. New plans will shift to digital, data-driven #marketing and away from linear TV to target Gen Z. Why? Gamers "make good soldiers." #KellyeMedia https://t.co/eqSu2uArBv pic.twitter.com/X9vKnK662E
— Kellye Media (@KellyeMedia) October 12, 2019
To be sure, military personnel from time immemorial tell tales of getting raw deals from their recruiters. (When he signed on the dotted line, Agamemnon probably promised Achilles a posting in Hawaii and sergeant stripes in two years.)
However, at the bottom of every Army contract for enlistment is the teeny-tiny codicil that states the whole thing can be torn asunder by the secretary of Defense for “the needs of the Army” — including but not limited to if a war comes along.
A decorated U.S. Army colonel who served combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is now retired told LifeZette about the new motto, “It’s weak. It’s vague. It’s not a call to action. When we join the Army, our identity changes. It becomes team over self. This motto does not reflect that.”
It is understandable the Army wants to attract a new generation of recruits in a language the potential soldiers comprehend.
And as Brig. Gen. Alex Fink, chief of Army Enterprise Marketing, told Army Times, the new campaign just unveiled differs from past efforts in the way it focuses on the Army’s many military occupational specialties that don’t involve direct combat.
But to me, obscuring the basic mission in the name of recruitment marketing does not help the Army or the recruit.
As in combat, direct candor should be the order of the day.
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