- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

The Army missed its original recruiting goals for three months after the debut of its $150 million "An Army of One" ad campaign.
But the Army in May lowered the recruiting targets by roughly the same number by which it had missed its goal. Officials say this was because the Army enjoyed increased re-enlistments and thus needed fewer recruits.
"An Army of One" has proven to be a hotly debated media approach, both within and outside the military. The Army dumped its celebrated "Be All That You Can Be" slogan for the new theme in hopes of attracting teens and people in their 20s looking for an organization that places importance on the individual and offers multiple career paths.
Critics deride the message as catering to self-centered youth and as inconsistent with the militarys principle of building unit cohesion. They point to the Armys latest recruiting numbers as proof "An Army of One" is a flop.
The new ads debuted on network TV, newspapers and magazines in mid-January. The Army achieved its recruiting goal for February but then failed to meet expectations in March, April and May, according to briefing documents obtained by The Washington Times. Recruiters missed their targets for that three-month period by 3,722 persons, taking in 15,178 against a goal of 18,900.
But in May, the Army changed the targets for those three months after Army headquarters at the Pentagon dropped the year-end objective by 3,150, from 78,950 to 75,800 inductees.
"We would have missed all three months," said Douglas Smith, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command.
Army officials say the recruit target was dropped because the service has exceeded its goal of extending the tours of enlisted soldiers. This means fewer recruits are needed to maintain the total force, or "end strength," of about 470,000 active duty enlisted soldiers and officers.
In addition to scripting new ads, the Army also began offering high school graduates thousands of dollars in bonuses in an effort to compete with colleges and private employers.
Some officers told The Times that the March-May unadjusted numbers show the ad may not be working.
"If you are investing that amount of dollars and we still cant achieve our recruiting mission, this bodes extremely poorly for the ability of the Army to man the force," said one officer, who asked not to be named.
Meeting recruiting expectations is especially important for the Army right now.
The Pentagon has begun its Quadrennial Defense Review, a study that dictates the militarys missions and size.
If the Army cannot bring in sufficient numbers of young people, the gap will bolster arguments from the other services that Army end strength should come down to save money for new major weapons systems.
The Army has been advocating an increase to about 490,000 soldiers to better handle far-flung foreign operations and peacekeeping missions.
The Army is counting on the Internet to attract future soldiers. Ads ask young people to go to goarmy.com, a Web site bristling with information on Army careers, basic training and recruiters.
The boot camp link makes celebrities of six recruits now in their seventh week of training. Its sort of the Armys version of "Survivor."
"See what it takes to become An Army of One," the Web page says. "Follow the lives of six recruits as this real-life Web series captures their nine-week journey from civilian to soldier. Join them each week, via video and multimedia installments, as they overcome their fears, realize their strengths and master the challenges of basic training."
Some in the Army doubt that those who access goarmy.com ever contact the Army in large numbers.
But Mr. Smith produced statistics to rebut that notion.
He said that since the new ads debuted, daily Web page visits are up 107 percent and recruiter leads to possible applicants rose 69 percent.
"I think that speaks for itself," Mr. Smith said.
Still, "An Army of One" has many critics, especially among military traditionalists.
Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, criticized the theme in a recent issue of her newsletter.
"Each advertisement ends with, 'I am an Army of one. And you can see my strength," she wrote.
"Whether intended or not, the message conveyed seems egotistical, with vaguely New Age undertones. Visual images and text bring to mind solitary action heroes like those found in comic books."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide