Sign Up To Be: An Army Of One

1917 illustration of Uncle Sam pointing finger on World War I recruiting poster created by James Mongomery Flagg
Uncle Sam still wants you, but the Army's sales pitch in the year 2001 hits a slightly different note.

The U.S. Army is retiring "Be all that you can be" - the recruiting slogan it's used since 1981 - and rolling out a new $150 million advertising campaign, with the slogan "Army of One."

Sounds a little strange at first, since the word 'army' suggests a large number of individuals, ready to defend or attack.

It makes sense to the Secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera.

He says "the 'Army of One' campaign focuses on the strength and teamwork of the U.S. Army as a united force of many soldiers, while reinforcing the concept that each individual makes a unique contribution to the Army's success."

The first commercial for the new campaign features 22-year-old Corporal Richard P. Lovett, a combat engineer from Tampa, Florida, who's currently stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The camera shows him running alone across the sands of the Mojave Desert, with a squad of soldiers at one point passing him, running in the opposite direction.

Then comes the voiceover.

"Even though there are 1,045,690 soldiers just like me, I am my own force," says Lovett. "With technology, with training, with support, who I am has become better than who I was. And I'll be the first to tell you, the might of the U.S. Army doesn't lie in numbers - It lies in me. I am an army of one. And you can see my strength."

Young men and women will see and hear the pitch everywhere - from TV, radio and the Web to newspapers, magazines, posters and even direct mail.

In an interview with CBS, Army spokeswoman Elaine Kanellis says the campaign is a result of research showing that the Army needs to reach out to young adults "as individuals, speaking to their self-image, their values, their aspirations."

"Today's youth, as opposed to the youth of 20 years ago, understands about personal growth," explains Kanellis. "The goal is to help young adults identify with the army and let young adults know we're working with them."

As has been the case for decades, part of what the Army offers is education and training for the 212 different jobs that are within the Army's scope.

Kanellis says recruits also have opportunities for personal growth, leadership, discipline and to be part of a winning team.

The Army also has overhauled its recruitment Web site, into a 'click and tell' format which allows men and women thinking of enlisting to click on the photos of numerous soldiers, to have each one tell why he or she joined, what he or she likes about the Army, and how he or she lives.

We need to focus on the person as an individual," says Kanellis. "Having real soldiers discuss their actual motivations…is more compelling."

By Francie Grace
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