Service Identity

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by LineInTheSand, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,755
    Likes Received:
    1,004
    This thread might be a little different than you thought when you read the title. Let me explain the background, and we'll get this thing started.

    Not too long ago, at a joint school, an Air Force colonel came to speak to my joint class of 60. In this class, we have six Navy officers and chiefs, seven Marine Corps officers and NCOs, around 25 Air Force officers, about 21 Army officers, and one Coast Guard officer (me).

    The colonel began to speak and it quickly became clear to all that the Air Force had some problems. Most of them have been "right out there" for the public to see, and center around not the best control over nukes, purchasing F-22s and changes in funding. The colonel was justifying the existence of the Air Force, stating why it was it's own service and not part of the Army and how there were some calls to combine the Air Force with the Army again. I was a little surprised with this kind of talk. A few of the Air Force officers were also surprised, although some were not. I had just assumed the Air Force was confident in their position, but that's not entirely true.

    Well, I started thinking about the Navy's new recruiting campaign "A global force for good". I don't want a "force for good Navy" I want a "strongest Navy possible in the world". I have a feeling that the Navy is going through a bit of an identity crisis. As the focus of the United States shifts from Iraq to Afghanistan, the Navy realizes that Afghanistan has no coast, and that with the exception of Corpsman and SEALs, the Navy doesn't have that visible "dog in the fight". They shift commercials to "humanitarian ops" and fighting pirates. The American people don't put down billions of dollars to deliver rice to needy countries. Yes, soft power is nice, but an aircraft carrier is made to kill, as are submarines and every other Navy ship (with the exception of the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort).

    Now, of course, i come form the Coast Guard. There isn't a branch out there that is constantly stating and restating its missions more than the Coast Guard. Not only to the public, but also fellow service members. We juggle our identity under Title 10 and Title 14. The missions are so diverse, it can be hard to "narrow it down" in a way that makes sense to the masses. It's even harder to capture that in an ad.

    The Marine Corps has sold their image. You watch a USMC commercial, and you know NOTHING about what they do, besides dress up and spin rifles, but people fall in love with it. What other service advertises by having video of a kid puking in basic? Only the Marines.

    Finally the Army has battled with itself deciding if their recruiting campaign should focus on the individual (Army of One) or the group. Those within the service were not happy with "Army of One", although I thought they had some entertaining commercials when it first came out.

    So what if your service battling with identity wise? Have your commercials shifted from WARRIOR to SAVIOR? Are the service members in your commercials shooting or handing out flowers?
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,809
    Likes Received:
    956
    The AF does very few commercials, and the ones I have seen are really selling technology...obviously their goal is to grab the attention of Xbox kids.

    The AF went through their identity crisis about 10 yrs ago. It is not a shock to me that some in your meeting were surprised by that comment, because they probably don't recall, how the slogans changed and so did the AF logo. However, the Col. has been in long enough to recall that time, it really felt that every other month they were changing something for about 2 yrs. Flight suits, the Blues, the slogans, and the logo were all changed, and re-changed along with internal changes...maintainers went from their own arena to under the flying squadron command to back to their own, all within less than 10 yrs. In a short time span our slogans went from "No one comes close to Cross into the Blue to Aim High to Above All. Obviously, this occurred because of an identity crisis.

    I believe the AF has made it through their identity crisis, and partly due to the UAVs. They took that one aspect and are now selling themselves as the "technology" force. If you see their ads, it is warped around jets, radar, UAVs. As I stated earlier that is how they want to sell themselves to the potential airmen. Also, they are able to soothe parents fears that their Johnnie or Janie will be safe behind a computer screen and not on the front line. Better yet, they will get into a technology field, not my opinion, just the image they are selling.

    The identity crisis also exists within the DOD, but the leaders realize that each branch has a "true" specific mission. The AF not only exists to do humanitarian air drops, but within the AF they respond to the Army for ground support and precision bombing. The Navy also does precision bombing, but they also have the ability to sit off coast and lob a cruise missile. The Army is there to have boots on the ground and stabilization. The Marines exist to be the brave ones and go in 1st. The CG is needed to not only secure our waters around the nation, but also are the ones that answer the call when a plane goes in the drink to rescue them...i.e AF plane goes down in AK waters, the CG answers the call to rescue them.

    Everyone has their own specific mission, the identity crisis is really an issue of how do we get that 18 yr old to sign with us and not them?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2009
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,755
    Likes Received:
    1,004
    And where to get funding...haha.
     
  4. Kero

    Kero Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    0
    My question is where I can get a pair of those NVG/Thermal/Oakley goggles that the Air Force commercials are claiming is the "technology of now". But I'm sure there are people out there that believe it.
     
  5. Bullet

    Bullet Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    994
    Likes Received:
    99
    ^^^ Well, maybe not out in the field as of now, but it's beyond the "on the drawing board" stage for technologies such as the goggles shown. I'd love to show you the Helmet-Mounted Display System (HMDS) being developed for the F-35. Looks like something straight out of Star Wars, and what it can do would simply blow you away. One neat function: the ability to see THROUGH the jet or even yourself, day and night!

    Shoot, you young un's will be getting all the neat toys!
     
  6. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,239
    Likes Received:
    272
    Yeah, AF commercials usually go something like "fighter, bomber, satellite, computer screen, predator, lazers, transport, fighter, AF logo/slogan":shake:

    In the current wars, some have called the AF's usefulness into question. (They need to do some research!)
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,755
    Likes Received:
    1,004
    True. The general conversations I hear aren't about having an Air Force, but having an Air Force completely separate from another service, like the Army.
     
  8. Bullet

    Bullet Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    994
    Likes Received:
    99
    LITS, the Army to this day still likes to refer to the "mistake of 1947". It's been that way for decades, and something I had to defend and debate against with my Army compatriots for the whole year I was at Command and General Staff College.

    I do see some of the Army's arguments about owning the majority of the ISR platforms used in the current fight as legit. Their butts are the ones being protected by a persistent eye-in-the-sky, they would like to be able to tell it where to go without the standard rigmarole they have to go through now. The leadership on the ground has an appetite for battle space awareness through ISR "eyes on" that has grown insatiable. Recent suggestions have called for over 100 orbits in Iraq and Afghanistan! If the Army could get them, they would want a predator for EVERY combat team on the ground. Perhaps matched with a 2-ship of A-10s to boot!

    It is when we get to Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for airborne assets, and the Army's lack of any basic understanding of these, that I get nervous with the legitimacy of their rights to dictate air power. Deconfliction of the air space is an after thought to them, as they live by the "big sky, little airplane" rule of thought. Granted, the Army could re-learn all the lessons we've had to learn over the past few decades, but that would take time, commitment, and resources. And in the halls of the Pentagon, where the decisions on those three things are made via the yearly budget, I just don't trust an Army General to put those things as his priority over getting the newest tank and armored personnel carrier.

    The current fight is ground centric. The spotlight from the public and (more importantly) from the civilian leadership is directly focused on the ground fight, and rightfully so. We (the AF) haven't helped ourselves with some poor leadership focus and stupid mistakes over the past few years. But I remind everyone that in 1991, we went to war against an enemy that had one of the most dangerous and protected air spaces in the world, complete with a pretty modern air force ready to rain death and destruction on any enemy ground force. The Commanding Generals had to be convinced by the Joint Forces Air Component Commander that gaining air superiority first was the key to victory. And with just basic instructions to "make it so", the JFACC devised an air campaign that ensured an easy victory. I'm not sure a ground-fcused leadership would have been able to do that.

    Just my two cents...
     
  9. sprog

    sprog Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    9
    One mission area you never (or rarely see) advertised in the USAF is the ICBM community, where I served. Most people think that pulling alerts on Minuteman missiles was a thing done in the Cold War, and are surprised that it still goes on. When you do see it advertised, it is always a picture of a test missile launching from Vandenberg, an action which the vast majority of missileers will never get to do. Understandable, though, as I doubt they would get too many recruits for ROTC/OTS/USAFA by showing a missileer wolfing down tater tots in his sweats while in the launch control center...followed by a three hour drive back to Minot after the alert was over.
     

Share This Page