Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Join the Navy and see the world

While driving home last night, I passed a small strip mall and saw a store front for a Navy recruiter. Perhaps you recall that their advertising/recruiting tag line was "Join the Navy and see the world." Two doors over in the same mall was an Army recruiting storefront.

The recruiting storefronts are scattered all across America. The Air Force and Marines also have them, as all are trying to gain recruits. In fact, they're all competing for the same demographic. So, we have brand differentiation. Army Strong! The Few, The Proud, The Marines. You get it.

It seems to me that is pretty stupid. That's not duplication of effort, or triplication of effort, it's quadruplication of effort. Pentuplication (if that's a word) if you count the Coast Guard. Here's my money saving tip; close down all the separate recruiting stations, and send those soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen back to their bases where they're needed. Develop a professional sales/recruiting force that will work with recruits to determine their interests and desires and help them get into the most compatible service.

Also, in times of need, the Dept of Defense can prioritize one or the other to try to keep its numbers up. If one service is to grow (as the Army and Marines are under a recent budget proposal) then perhaps a bit less $$ goes into the Air Force advertising budget and more into the others.

I also think one other tragic result flows from the current system, in addition to the waste of money. And that is, the Marines trying to convince themselves and everybody else that they're "the toughest." They are a very competent fighting force, but have gotten beyond their core mission of amphibious landings. The general concept was, the Navy takes large numbers of Marines in on ships. The Marines take the beach, so to speak, and set up operations. Once set, the Army comes in and conducts the land offensive.

Well, there's not a lot of call for amphibious landings any more, so Marines are being used in many cases just like the Army. See, Iraq, Afghanistan. The Marine brand is, "we're the toughest," and many of the Marines, the younger ones especially, believe that. Part of being the toughest is being aggressive. And that's where the tragedy comes in.

Look at the casualty rates in Iraq. Much higher per capita for Marines as compared to the Army. (see below, link here) Marines are overly aggressive and put themselves in harm's way needlessly. It is not because the Marines, being the toughest, are in all the toughest spots. They have no lock on difficult and dangerous missions. It's because the kids believe the advertising and try to prove how tough they are by being aggressive. And it's killing them.

So, Dept of Defense recruiters can enlist recruits and steer them toward compatible jobs, and toward the needs of the overall DoD, and the services won't need brand differentiation. We'll save lives and money. (Probably do need separate recruiting for Active vs Reserve component, however.)


Anonymous said...

As a Navy vet, I have to say that your ideas are great cost-savers, Adam, but they won't work. Young men and women enlist in the various branches of service for very different reasons. They also enlist much like impulse buyers purchase things.

The kids who join the Navy really do join to see the world; that was the reason I joined. They also often see the Navy as a potential career, or are attracted by the technical training.

The kids who join the Marine Corps desire the physical challenges, the warrior culture, and the exclusivity of being a part of a smaller group.

Very different mindsets.

Recruiters for each service know the best sales points, and know right away if a potential enlistee is attracted to them or not. They also know if an enlistee is suited for the particular service. very fast.

I'm sure that civilians could be trained to evaluate and assess for suitability, but it would take many years to acquire what all those recruiters know to the bone from many years in the sevice.

Anonymous said...

The two kids joined to Navy oh great!!
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