The Army Is Taking New Steps To Address Lack Of Officers The Army Turns To Social Media To Address Lack Of Officers

Social media and new recruiting areas are guiding the Army's shifting strategy.

ROSS: Sergeant First Class Justin Storie graduated from Liverpool High School in 2005 and enlisted in the Army. He joined as an infantryman, not once thinking he’d be a recruiter.

STORIE: If you had asked me three years ago if I was going to be a recruiter, I would have said no. I just didn’t see myself convincing people that joining the army was a good idea.

ROSS: But Storie was assigned to become a recruiter in the Army’s North Syracuse office three years ago. Now, he says he enjoys the job. He’s also fine-tuned his pitch.

STORIE: The level of training that you’re going to receive and leadership skills that you’re going to apply If you get back into the civilian world, it’s going to set you apart from your peers…(continue sound but fade out under next voice track)

ROSS: However, trying to recruit people to become officers and lead has been a challenge lately. The number of active duty army officers has dropped by almost 8 percent in the last six years. Dr. Beth Asch is an expert in military recruiting and says a flourishing job market might be cutting into the talent pool.

ASCH: There’s been research on this for decades that consistently shows that when the economy improves, unless the army takes proactive steps, recruiting goes down.

ROSS: Minchailou Kanoute, Syracuse University Army ROTC cadet, says he also notices there aren’t many his age very eager to serve.

KANOUTE: Out of a high school of like 900-something kids, I’d say about four had enlisted in the military, and I’m counting myself doing ROTC as being one of those kids. So, it’s not a popular career path.

ROSS: These factors have forced the Army to innovate its approach.

ASCH: It’s using and adapting in social media.

SOUND of iPhone Notification

STORIE: I make all my money on social media.

ROSS: Storie has even created a Facebook account with the stage name “Jason” specifically for recruiting.

STORIE: That’s where all the kids are at today: Instagram, Facebook, some of the guys use Snapchat.

ROSS: The Army is also starting to ramp up efforts in 22 of the country’s largest cities, places it doesn’t typically target.

ASCH: I think the Army’s logic is: Let’s try recruiting places where we’ve typically focused less effort because the reason it might have been less productive is simply because we haven’t put the effort in, not that there’s not a willingness.

ROSS: That may cure what Kanoute says is a general lack of understanding of the military amongst his peers.

KANOUTE: They think that if you go to the military, you’re automatically gonna die and stuff like that. They don’t understand that you know, the military is more than just what you see in Call of Duty or in movies and stuff like that. There’s a lot of things behind.

ROSS: Storie also agrees filling in the blanks is a difference maker for people.

STORIE: When you have a good understanding of the benefits and the level of training you’re going to receive within the military is going to make you real competitive in the civilian force.

ROSS: So if you’re a college graduate, don’t be surprised if Uncle Sam comes calling from somewhere you may not expect it.

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ROSS: Brandon Ross, NCC News.

The U.S. Army has seen an almost eight percent decline in active duty officers since 2013, leading  the branch to take steps to address this decline with new recruiting tactics. Chief among these changes is the Army developing a greater online presence.

“(The Army) is using and adapting in social media,” said Dr. Beth Asch, an expert in military recruiting who works at the RAND Corporation.

Facebook page for Jason Storie
Sergeant First Class Justin Storie uses this Facebook account with the name “Jason” to target potential recruits online.
Photograph: © 2019 Brandon Ross

“I make all my money on social media,” Sgt. First Class Justin Storie said, regarding how many of the recruits he gets to join come from using social media. “That’s where all the kids are at today: Instagram, Facebook, some of the guys use Snapchat.”

The Army has also gone so far as to form a competitive online gaming team to compete and recruit.

Recruiting efforts were  increased in 22 of the largest cities in the United States that don’t typically produce a lot of soldiers,  such as New York City and Boston.

“It might have been less productive (in recruiting big cities) simply because we haven’t put the effort in, not that there’s not a willingness,” Asch said.

Kanoute  added some of it may just come down to having the Army find ways to break through people’s preconceived notions.

“(Some people) think that if you go to the military, you’re automatically going to die,” said Minchailou Kanoute, a Syracuse University ROTC cadet. “They don’t understand the military is more than just what you see in  (in the video game) Call of Duty. There’s a lot of things behind it.”

Reported by

Brandon Ross

Brandon Ross is a sophomore Broadcast and Digital Journalism and History major at Syracuse University. Brandon works at Syracuse's student-run television station, Citrus TV, as well as at radio stations WJPZ and WAER. This summer, Brandon will be the voice of the Burlington Royals, the rookie-ball affiliate of Major League Baseball's Kansas City Royals.

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