There’s More To Military Service Than Infantry. ‘What’s Your Warrior?’ Wants To Showcase It All

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Dan Boyce/CPR News
Recruit Crystal Townsend, 35, felt the Army provided a more diverse range of career options than other military branches. She hopes to go into military intelligence.

The U.S. Army hopes a new marketing campaign will show potential recruits a different side of military service.

The campaign, called “What’s Your Warrior?”, steers away from showcasing the glory of the battle-hardened infantryman that has dominated marketing pushes for decades. 

It instead focuses on the variety of career fields available to recruits — from space and cybersecurity jobs to science and medical positions. The campaign launched in November and has already resulted in a 35 percent jump in visitors filling out the initial forms on the Army’s website, compared to November 2018. 

Brig. Gen. Alex Fink, chief of Army enterprise marketing, is behind “What’s Your Warrior?”. He said filling out those forms is just the first step.

“It's great and fine and dandy to fill out a business reply card online,” Fink said. “But, how does that translate into actually getting folks to make a commitment?”

That’s where the individual relationship between recruit and recruiter comes in. 

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Colorado Springs Army Recruiting Company Commander Josh Trenkel speaks with new recruits during a tour of Fort Carson Army Base.

Colorado Springs Army Recruiting Company Cmdr. Josh Trenkel said his recruiters are using “What’s Your Warrior?” to simply start the conversation about joining.

“That's where the art of it is,” Trenkel said. “They really need to know how to take that message, and give it to the students coming out of school these days and make sure that they know the opportunities that are available to them.”

Trenkel was supervising a tour at Fort Carson Army Base for brand new recruits. The group took turns in a shooting simulator, peeked inside military vehicles and were treated to an old Army standard, a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE), for lunch.

Crystal Townsend was sitting on the grass with other new recruits, opening her vegetable crumble MRE.

“When I was younger, when I was 18, 19, I did want to join, but I wasn't really competent in myself,” Townsend, now 35, said. “I didn't know anybody in the military and I wasn't really sure I could do it.”

Dan Boyce/CPR News
New Army recruits try out a shooting simulation at Fort Carson Army Base.

Townsend ended up in law enforcement, rising in the ranks to become a deputy sheriff in El Paso County. It’s a stable job in a professional career, but as she got older and closer to the maximum age for enlistment, she found herself having regrets.

“It was just eating at me. And I finally said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna go for it,’” she said.

Sitting near her were younger men and women just out of high school and looking for more than the classic Army experience as a gunner or infantryman. One woman nearby was looking to go into communications, another man hoping to jumpstart a career as a firefighter. The range of ambitions these recruits have is exactly how the Army is hoping to sell itself through “What’s Your Warrior?”

The first ad in the campaign looks more like a trailer for an effects-laden superhero movie than a traditional recruitment pitch, with helicopters flying through mountain passes and microscopic cells dividing on screen. 

There’s also a social media blitz with simpler videos attempting a more personal touch, with individual soldiers talking in front of a simple black background about their experiences.

The diversity of career options in the Army that are now on display in the new campaign is what led Townsend to choosing the Army over another military branch. Though the logical path would be to move from her job as a sheriff’s deputy to military police, she’s looking for a different path.

Her first choice is to move into military intelligence. 

“I would figure it would be a waste of opportunity to not go into something else, challenge myself by learning a completely new field,” Townsend said.