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The Army Wants You to Skip “Entry-Level” Civilian Jobs and Become an Officer

The latest Army marketing campaign is simple: why sit at a boring desk job where no one listens to you when you could be making the decisions in uniform?

The new campaign, titled “Decide to Lead,” is the first in years to focus solely on recruiting army officers. A total of six videos will be released primarily on streaming services, two of which were released last week.

“The campaign itself is framed around this idea that leadership is not innate,” Major General Alex Fink, the Army’s corporate marketing chief, told Task & Purpose. “It’s a choice people can make. You weren’t born with it, you don’t inherit it. It is a choice a person can make if they have the will and the desire and want to be a leader.

The army is suffering from recruits, expecting about 10,000 soldiers to fall short of its planned recruitment target for this exercise. Army chiefs said in a memo last month that they expected the situation to worsen further in fiscal year 2023 by having a final strength of 445,000 to 452,000 troops, compared to 473,000 that they had planned in the last budget.

And while Fink said many of the challenges the military faces in recruiting enlisted soldiers don’t manifest themselves in the same way when it comes to recruiting officers, he said there have been ” a reduction” in the number of people working to become officers. these last years. It’s unclear what that reduction looked like, but the intent of the campaign, Fink said, was to consider how the military can build a “really strong bench” of officers who would eventually be the senior commanders in the Hall.

West Point graduates stand and salute as the national anthem is played during the West Point 2022 Commencement Ceremony at West Point Military Academy on May 21, 2022 in West Point, New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

But recruiting an officer is, of course, different from recruiting an enlisted member. While an enlisted soldier could officially become a soldier within months — the sooner the better, according to the Army — it could take “two, three or four years to train an officer,” Fink said. The four paths to becoming an officer include graduating from a service academy, enrolling in a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) college program, attending Officer Candidate School ( OCS) after obtaining a bachelor’s degree or commissioning directly for civilians with professional experience as doctors. , lawyers or cyber professionals.

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So far, the new marketing campaign seems to rely mostly on these first three opportunities. It aims to inspire young people to join the army’s officer corps to gain leadership experience that might be hard to come by in a dark office job without “real responsibilities”, as a video posted on Wednesday put it.

“Instead,” the video says, “how does that sound? Starting in a position of guaranteed leadership with people who look to you for advice because you’re trained to give it and take important decisions in critical situations. Skip the entry level. Decide to lead.

Indeed, Fink said focusing on leadership opportunities in the military versus those in the civilian workforce was a key part of the campaign. After college, students may have to wait “15, 20 years in a career” before getting the kind of “executive-level professional development” they might find in the military, he said. declared. Not to mention that leadership and teamwork experience, as well as problem-solving skills, can translate into civilian jobs after service.

A second video also posted on Wednesday appeals to those who want to make the decisions and inspire others.

“It’s not for everyone,” the video concludes. “But if you want to learn how to make big decisions, start with this one. Decide to lead, as an army officer.

Although there are differences in recruiting officers and enlisted soldiers, some of the issues the military faces in recruiting either cohort are similar. For example, Fink said part of the challenge the military has with recruiting officers is the lack of information about ROTC programs, where students think they’re “making the decision not to go to university by becoming a member of the ROTC”.

A similar challenge exists with recruiting enlisted troops, which the military attempted to address in a previous marketing campaign, “What’s Your Warrior?” The campaign focused on publicizing the range of jobs available in the military, not just specific combat roles, to show young people that there were other options available to them.

Another part of the challenge with recruiting officers and enlisted soldiers is that there are more employment opportunities. As Wormuth and McConville put it in their July memo, the current recruiting woes are partly driven by “intense competition with the private sector.”

The service knows it competes with the private sector for college graduates, especially in fields like technology, engineering and science. And while they probably can’t match the starting salary a fresh grad might find in Silicon Valley, the Army hopes to match the level of responsibility instead.

“We feature things like people in the room where important decisions are made, as opposed to being outside the room where important decisions are made,” Fink said of the campaign. “Showing that as an army officer you can sit in that room where important things are decided early on.”

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