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The Army in the Marketplace: Recruiting an All-Volunteer Force


Duty or Opportunity?

This Teaching the JAH segment was created by Beth Bailey

Every modern society has debated the question of who should serve in its nation’s military. The documents below—an instructional film used in high school classrooms in 1951; a recruiting advertisement from 1948, when the military briefly returned to all-volunteer status; and print and TV advertisements for the post-1973 all-volunteer army—offer two distinct ways to approach that difficult question. The first two documents portray military service as a citizen’s duty. The advertisements for the all-volunteer army portray military service as an option and emphasize the opportunities the army offers to the nation’s youth.

Questions

  • How do the 1948 recruiting ad and the film Service and Citizenship (1951) portray the relationship between citizenship and military service?
  • If military service is defined as a duty of citizenship, but only men are drafted, how should we understand women’s status as citizens? How does Service and Citizenship portray women’s proper roles?
  • Why do education and job training play an important role in several of these documents?
  • What sorts of opportunities do the all-volunteer army recruiting advertisements present? Is it misleading to focus on opportunities rather than the possible sacrifices sometimes demanded in military service?
  • Is military service a category of its own, or is it similar to other important but high-risk jobs such as fire fighting?

Sources

A. Service and Citizenship, 1951 film for use in high school classrooms

B. Army recruiting advertisements

  1. “I need you again,” 1948
  2. Today’s Army: “We care more about how you think, than how you cut your hair,” c. 1971–1973
  3. Today’s Army: “When was the last time you got promoted?” (women) c. 1971–1973
  4. Today’s Army: “When was the last time you got promoted?” (men) c. 1971–1973
  5. Today’s Army: “Take the army’s 16-month tour of Europe,” c. 1971–1973
  6. Today’s Army: “If you think you’ll miss the guys, bring them along,” c. 1971–1973
  7. Today’s Army: “You get 12 matches, a knife, some twine, and 3 days to enjoy yourself,” c. 1971–1973
  8. Today’s Army: “We’ve got over 300 good, steady jobs,” c. 1971–1973
  9. Join the People Who’ve Joined the Army: “Some of our best men are women,” c. 1973–1978
  10. Join the People Who’ve Joined the Army: “Country music,” c. 1973–1978
  11.  “Join now. Go later. Up to four months later. Your future, your decision . . . choose army,” c. 1967–1971
  12. “This Is the Army” (men), 1979–1980
  13. “This Is the Army” (women), 1979–1980
  14. “Be All You Can Be,” 1981

C. “Be All You Can Be,” television commercial, 1980s–1990s

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