In a new move to attract a broader pool of military recruits, the Pentagon is asking to spend $140 million over the next five years to create an advertising campaign for the defense department.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the plan Tuesday as part of a wider effort to beef up recruiting and the ROTC program in order to attract top talent from around the country.
The individual military services have routinely done the bulk of the advertising, flooding the airwaves with familiar slogans for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
But Carter said the department wants to tout the idea of military service as a whole. And he said he wants to make more Americans familiar with the military and the benefits that come with service, including professional training and money for higher education. The advertising funding requires congressional approval.
Carter’s announcement came during a speech at City College of New York, where he told students that ”one opportunity some of you may not have considered, is serving our country by serving in the military.” He said military service is a place where they can maximize their talents and skills while defending the country.
In addition to more advertising, Carter said he wants to review enlistment standards, including fitness, tattoos, swimming tests, prior marijuana use and other benchmarks that may limit otherwise good recruits from trying to join. No decisions have been made and any relaxation of standards would only affect recruits and would not change the requirements needed to ultimately pass boot camp and become a service member. The goal would be to bring the lower-performing recruits up to the final standards by the end of training.
In many cases the individual services have their own enlistment standards that may be stricter than others.