Army Revives Old Slogan in Recruiting Bid


Silhouettes of soldiers | Image by Getmilitaryphotos/Shutterstock.

In response to the worst recruitment crisis in decades, the United States Army has decided to bring back its famous “Be All You Can Be” ad campaign.

Hoping to recruit 65,000 people into the military this year, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth announced the revival of the slogan “Be All You Can Be” at a recent event in Washington, D.C. on March 8.

The iconic 1980s ad “stands the test of time,” Wormuth said, per a press release, noting that the Army Enterprise Marketing Office (AEMO) recently found in its research that the campaign resonated with all ages.

“It evokes limitless possibilities for people from all walks of life,” she added.

The first two video ads — Overcoming Obstacles and Pushing Tomorrow — released in the new campaign feature Jonathan Majors, an actor who played in recent action blockbusters Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Creed III.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, according to Wormuth, the AEMO worked hard to bring the campaign together ahead of schedule in order to help the lag in recruitment figures. Only 45,000 recruits joined last year.

According to the Army release, the recruitment effort was dealt a heavy blow by the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other issues such as substance abuse, mental illness, and obesity have also presented challenges.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately two in five adults of recruitment age (17 to 24) are eligible based on weight and physical fitness. Among those already enlisted and on active duty, obesity rates have climbed from 16% in 2015 to 19% in 2020.

“We’re not going to lower our standards. We’re not going to sacrifice quality for quantity, but we will help you meet our standards,” said Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff, in reference to the Army’s launch of pre-enlistment preparation courses last year, per the WSJ.

Yet the draw of younger generations to the military is waning amid struggles reportedly faced by service members themselves.

According to the Military Family Advisory Network, the share of veterans, service members, and their spouses who endorse a career in uniform dropped nearly 12 points to 62.9% between 2019 and 2021. The reasons cited by those surveyed included financial difficulties and a toxic work environment.

“The military is a family business, and if military families are telling their children not to sign up, that sends a powerful message to everyone else, including people who are patriotic and motivated,” David Maxwell, a 30-year Army Special Forces veteran, told the Daily Mail.

With the relaunch of the “Be All You Can Be” campaign, as well as cash bonuses and accelerated promotions to young enlistees who meet certain requirements, Wormuth hopes to overcome the challenging recruiting environment.

Moreover, through ads showing soldiers jumping out of airplanes, operating drones, and diving underwater, Army officials hope to inspire a new pool of recruits among American youth, many of which reportedly know little about military service.

Gen. McConville told AP News, “The reason we’re bringing back ‘Be All You Can Be,’ I think it describes exactly what we want for parents and young men and women.”

“I’m just like any other parent: I want my kids to have an opportunity to do great things in life, to have an impact, be part of something bigger than themselves, to have a purpose. And I don’t think there’s any better place than the Army,” he added.

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