Information Warfare: April 10, 2001


The U.S. armed forces are into marketing mode. Noting that the MYV generation is not much impressed by stories of past military glory, the brass are meeting the kids on familiar ground. A new TV show called "Wargames," complete with a music video class soundtrack has just appeared. A new reality TV show, "Boot Camp", uses active duty Marine Corps drill instructors to add the right edge of authenticity. New recruiting commercials come on like music videos. Action and excitement is stressed. In the long history of military recruiting, stressing the fun (there's always some) and neglecting the tedium, terror and boredom has always worked better than being up front about what military life is really all about. Stressing service, accomplishment and pride in one's work has always been a hard sell. But the current campaign is actually not so much about recruiting as it is about just keeping people aware that the armed forces exist. Recruiters tend to be more forthcoming about what military life is really all about. The recruiters know that word-of mouth from young people in the service, or who have been, is used by potential recruits to provide more realistic information on what it's like "inside." But many potential recruits are only dimly aware that the military exists. Thus the current flood of flashy military programming.


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