It has been well documented that the Army is well short of its recruiting goal this year. Besides the fact that many young Americans are not even eligible to join, there is a general apathy toward joining the Army.
For the Army’s Special Forces (Green Berets), most of their recruiting in the past has been conducted by targeting soldiers who are already in the Army, as SOF looked for junior NCOs who have some experience.
With a dwindling pool of recruits, other Army units are also having trouble retaining NCOs, as many are leaving the service in search of better job opportunities, better benefits, and more family time. But help is on the way.
Now, with a lesser-known program known as 37X, the Army is moving into new territory and taking more of its recruiting into America’s high schools. This is a much-needed change as the program takes the Army’s needs and translates them better to the young people that they’re targeting.
Army SOF has to ‘do a better job’ of recruiting PSYOPS
Lieutenant General Jonathan Braga, the head of the Army’s Special Operations Command, spoke about the need for the Army to do more in getting good quality PSYOP operators and how the recruiting pitch has changed.
“We’ve got to do a better job of translating those opportunities for not only high-schoolers but…also people already in the workforce out there,” he said.
“If I just said, ‘Hey, you want to come and be a psychological operations operator?’ some people are like, ‘What are you talking about?’ But if I went in and said, ‘Hey, do you want to be a military social media influencer?’ I think I know what you told me just there,” Braga said.
“The younger generation — they’re living on different platforms and consuming media in different ways. And we have to adapt to that,” Braga said in an interview with Military Times. “Our content’s got to be organic because that’s what people like to consume. If it’s more believable, and the more transparency I think you have, the more people understand, ‘Oh, I could do that… I want to do that.’”
Braga said that most young people had no clue that they could make a career out of influence operations, which require everything from graphic design to copywriting, production skills, and more.
He also cited the 7th Special Forces Group’s recent recruiting efforts at colleges and universities with many native Spanish speakers. 7th SFG is area-oriented to Central and South America, and the 7th Group operators have to maintain a language proficiency in Spanish.
Army PSYOP’s new recruiting video appeals to media-savvy youth
The Army’s Psychological Operations created a really intriguing and well-produced recruitment video that appealed to a variety of people. In the video, a quote by Sun-Tzu fades into a view of a modern city, a black and white cartoon looking like it was made in the 1940s, which finally fades into different modern conflicts. The theme? That the modern-day PSYOP soldier can influence the battlefield of today by being a “ghost.”
The video produced by the 4th Psychological Operations Group is a fantastic blend of the old and new and gives off an eerie vibe of a thriller or a Cold War spy yarn. Peter W. Singer, who writes books on the future of warfare, took to Twitter to give his take on the new video.
“OK, this is the creepiest thing I’ve seen in weeks…, and I literally write books on this stuff! I want to say, “Well Done,” but I’m not sure if I just got brainwashed to post that.”
In the past, the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion went for troops already in the Army. That is now changing.
Steve Balestrieri is a proven military analyst. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for Sandboxx.com, he has written for 19fortyfive.com and SOFREP.com; he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.
Feature Image: Soldiers of Task Force Carentan visited a summer camp for high school aged children from around the Lviv oblast, Ukraine, June 12, 2019. Soldiers spoke to campers about their service and roles at the Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Justin Navin)