The New York Times' James Dao reports that the US Marine Corps is taking a new tack in their promotional strategy to attract new recruits -- telling it like it is (almost) and challenging young men and women to step up. Unlike the US Army's carefully sanitized representation of army life, the Marines are showing down-and-dirty scenes from boot camp. If you endure the ordeal and meet the challenge you get to call yourself a US Marine.
The Army would do well to embrace this approach which depicts life in the Marine Corps as anything but fun and games with neat weapons. Readers will recall that an OpEdNews reporter was arrested and charged with conspiracy this weekend for lingering to photograph the arrest of protestors at the Philadelphia Army Experience Center after other media left rather than risk a confrontation with police. The protesters sought to close the Army center because they saw it as making realistic combat simulations seem like a game and allowing kids to play at bloodless war simulations.
While some of us who are veterans are sympathetic with the need of the services to attract young people to military careers, many object to the trivializing of combat and find that it demeans and misrepresents the sacrifices required of our servicemen and women.
It looks like the Marines are again leading the way, as they often proudly claim. By representing how difficult and unpleasant boot camp can be, and then challenging youth to step forward and volunteer they are not sugar-coating or downplaying what it takes to be a warrior for one's country.
I don't expect to visit my local shopping mall and see cheery young men and women in USMC issue red and gold Semper Fi polo shirts inviting gangling teenagers to heft a Marine weapon. No sir -- not any time soon.