By Andy Wolf
Amidst a recruiting shortage, the US Army’s commercials are starting to look a little more familiar than they have in recent years— and the American public is noticing in a way that the US Army may not have intended them to.
The branch, which fell 10,000 recruits short in October of 2023 and had to scramble 800+ Non-Commissioned Officers to recruiting school on short notice, recently began posting new recruiting videos to social media under the classic “Be All That You Can Be” slogan, which originally ran from 1980 to 2001.
The video shows a group of predominantly White male Soldiers performing an Airborne drop.
On Twitter [X], the notable lack of disproportionately hamfisted diversity now common in advertising was noticed, along with the fact that many in the United States feel we are on the verge of entering another global conflict.
Unfortunately for the Army, the organization’s most plentiful demographic —White males, who make up 84.3% of the branch’s gender makeup and 53.6% of its ethnic profile— don’t appear to be fired up for enlistment anymore.
“White dudes back in the ads,” one netizen commented. “Things are getting serious.”
“Only time you have White men is when it’s war time,” another wrote.
Others noted the more recent focus on the Army’s focus on alternative lifestyles and demographics in recent years.
“White men in an army commercial instead of obese they/thems telling their story how the Army helps them live their life as a poly cat family?” wrote one user. “You must be looking for bullet catchers to fight another BS sand war. Too late, pass.”
“Where is the diversity?” wrote Carl Benjamin, AKA YouTuber Sargon_Of_Akkad, using the “suspicious goose chasing guy for answers” meme as a template.
“There are no women in this advertisement,” a third replied. “Why is that, @USArmy?”
A large number of the comments concerned elaborated on how many feel the establishment —from the Army to the Justice Department, academia to corporate entities— spent the last few years demonizing White males, only to call upon them when recruiting numbers are low and conflict may be around the corner.
“They need fighters, but all the fighters in the current generation would rather fight them than fight for them,” one user wrote. “They are trying to put back up the facade of being patriotic.”
“Imagine completely disrespecting an entire race and their culture then wanting them to fight wars for you,” a second netizen chimed in.
“But… where is Emma?,” a third wrote, referencing a recent Army ad that appeared to pander to the LGBTQ+/female community and drew great public scrutiny. “Where are her two moms?”
Others noted how regions traditionally rich in recruits are changing attitudes towards military service.
“In Appalachia, a warrior culture recruiting hotspot since America’s origin, I hear more young men discussing resisting the Army than serving in it and no longer feel the Army’s values align with their own,” a user wrote. “Good job, Army, you poisoned your most bountiful well for ‘my two moms.’”
The notion of Appalachians losing interest in wartime service is a worrying one: the region traditionally known for celebrating military service produced several Medal of Honor recipients in World War One [to include Sergeant Alvin York], a large chunk of the 473 Medals of Honor in World War II, comprised eight percent of the fighting force in the Korean War and awarded 13 percent of the Medals of Honor in the Vietnam War, despite comprising only seven percent of the US fighting forces.
Back on Twitter [X], another concern among civilians and veterans alike was how the US Army treated individuals who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccines on personal, religious or other grounds, often punishing them with career-ending general discharges, stunted promotions and other slights— despite the DoD now slowly releasing information on the rise of possible side-effects such as myocarditis.
“You kicked my brother out of the [Ranger] Regiment for refusing a shot,” one user tweeted. “Now we read news articles about young men dying of mystery heart attacks. Why should he come back?”
“The caveat is they’re all vaccinated for COVID-19,” another wrote.
“Can’t wait to have my sons spend two weeks a year in diversity and equity courses while getting injected with pharmaceuticals that attack his heart muscles,” a third quipped. “Good times.”
While Twitter isn’t the end-all metric for American sentiment, it certainly is telling— and the responses hint that the recent Army paratrooper ad was a public relations lawn dart.
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