The U.S. military has been facing its biggest recruiting challenges in nearly five decades, according to experts. And when recruitment is low, the military, like any organization, looks to ways to lure in new recruits.
One way to entice people, mainly men, is through the art of seduction as well as appealing to aggressive tendencies through such things as violent video games, and military-hyped films, among other things.
These recruiting strategies boil down to using “barracks bunny” sexualized influencers and psychological operations (often called psyops.)
Psyops are operations that prompt selective information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals, according to AllAboutPsychology.com.
“the US military is struggling with a shortage of new recruits, and is using sexualized social media propaganda to lure young men into signing away their lives,” tweeted user account @zei_squirrel. The tweet included a video of women who are supposedly in the military saying and doing suggestive things.
The military is in need of recruits, and experts say the military will resort to different tactics. The Army, for example, faces the toughest challenge with gaps up to 21,000 soldiers, Bloomberg Government reported in September 2022.
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“The Department anticipates we will collectively miss our recruiting mission despite accessing more than 170,000 remarkable young men and women” in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2022, Stephanie Miller, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, said in prepared testimony before the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “This constitutes an unprecedented mission gap and is reason for concern.”
According to Pentagon data, 77 percent of youth 16 to 24 years old aren’t qualified for military service without waivers. Nearly 44 percent of such youth are ineligible for service for multiple reasons, the most prevalent being overweight, according to Miller.
Add to this, people who just don’t want to join the military.
“Of greater concern is the number of youth who believe military service will harm them in some way,” Miller wrote in the testimony, pointing to young people’s belief that military service will leave people with psychological problems, or difficulties adjusting back to everyday life.
To boost interest on the military, the government has often enlisted Hollywood. Pro-military, pro-war movies, television programming, and video games psychologically lure people into service.
Some claim the video game “Call of Duty” is actually a government psyop tool.
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II,” which was released in 2022 and was an instant success, yet “it has also been shrouded in controversy, not least because missions include assassinating an Iranian general clearly based on Qassem Soleimani, a statesman and military leader slain by the Trump administration in 2020, and a level where players must shoot ‘drug traffickers’ attempting to cross the U.S./Mexico border,” Mint Press News reported.
The “Call of Duty” franchise has sold close to half a billion games since it was launched in 2003 by Activision Blizzard, which is also behind titles games as the games “Guitar Hero,” “Warcraft,” “Starcraft,” “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,””Crash Bandicoot,” and “Candy Crush Saga” series.
The military, reported Min Press News, was heavily involved in the development of “Call of Duty.” In September 2018, the United States Air Force hosted a group of entertainment executives at Hurlburt Field, Florida. “Call of Duty”/Activision Blizzard producer Coco Francini was among them. The military wanted to “showcase” its hardware and to make the entertainment industry more “credible advocates” for the U.S. war machine. Francini and others were shown CV-22 helicopters and AC-130 planes in action, both of which feature heavily in “Call of Duty” games.
“This is a great opportunity to educate this community and make them more credible advocates for us in the production of any future movies/television productions on the Air Force and our Special Tactics community,” wrote the Air Force Special Operations Command] community relations chief in an email about the visit.
Just as the military has used the entertainment industry for decades to further its cause, so has it too with sexuality.
During the First World War, for example, the government sexually “teased” its troops to make them fight harder, Cambridge historian Eric Wycoff Rogers claimed. The military did so by recruiting attractive canteen staff; inviting female civilians to dances; disseminating alluring propaganda; and pressurizing troops to write to women back home; among other things, Phys.org reported.
In a study published in the Journal of the History of Sexuality, Rogers argued that the U.S. Government and military used sexuality to motivate its conscripted soldiers to embrace their roles in the war. Black males soldiers, however, were not targeted in this way, said Rogers, because white military leaders thought Black men could not be motivated with sex because they were “supposedly inherently sexually licentious. For this reason, most Black soldiers were assigned to non-combat units in the First World War,” Phys.org reported.
The U.S. Army National Guard members including recruitment chief Lt. Col. Amber Ellison, center, stand outside the Army National Guard office during training, April 21, 2022 in Washington. In March the local guard opened its first proper recruiting office in the city since 2010. The commander, Maj. Gen. Sherrie McCandless, describes the move as a new push for visibility and an emphasis on the guard’s local connections at a time when many residents might be ripe for recruitment.(AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)