Screenshot of two army troops taken from the new Army recruiting rap video in an article by LTC Allen West for the Old School Patriot

‘Be All That You Can Be’

In Culture, Front Page, Military by Allen West

Yes, okay, I admit, I am an Old School Patriot and I remember the Army recruiting theme early in my career: “Be All That You Can Be.” It was once deemed one of the most recognizable slogans in America. There was the tag line, “we do more before 9 am than some do all day. Then, there was the famous song, “We Were There.” The refrain to the song went something like this, “When we were needed, we were there, we were there when we were needed, we were there. Tho’ it wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always fair, but when freedom called we answered we were there.”

You can see that venerable video right here. As I watched it, yep, I got teary-eyed.

Well, welcome to the new Army, and there are some things that just cause me to scratch my head. I remember when I was assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, NC, from 1999-2002. It was while I was there that the Army went to black berets, and a new slogan, “Army of One.”

I will never forget the commercial ad which showed one soldier, without a weapon, helmet, and camouflage top running in the opposite direction of the tanks, attack helicopters, and the other troops with weapons. This was supposed to be a new marketing theme to attract the new generation. To those of us Old Soldiers, that fella looked like a deserter, running away from the fight. Heck, maybe the kid was related to Bowe Bergdahl.

Needless to say, that marketing scheme, slogan, did not last long. Then came one that I was very proud of “Army Strong.” Finally, we were highlighting our Army as warriors and warfighters, not deserters. I just gotta tell ya, when it comes to commercial ads and marketing, the US Marine Corps just kicks our butts. Just think, “The Few, The Proud.” Whose chest did not swell with pride watching the US Marine Corps silent drill team in that venerable commercial showing them executing their drills all across America?

Well, the Army has come up with a new commercial and marketing scheme in order to attract Generation Z. It comes with a rap video . . . and one of the venues in the commercial is my birthplace of Atlanta, Georgia, on the Boulevard Avenue bridge. I know that bridge very well since I walked it many times as a little boy going to and from elementary school.

Yes, I know, the Army ain’t looking to recruit me, got it, but I just do not know that this is the type of video that will inspire young men — the only type of troops seen in the commercial — to be Airborne Infantrymen. Much of the video was shot at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where I attended Airborne and Jumpmaster school back in 1984.

So, here is the deal: take a look at the 3:04 video below, and I let me know what you think.

[Article continues below video]

I would have much preferred a revised version of “We Were There,” a call to patriotic duty. My wife Angela, and daughters, Aubrey and Austen, will tell you that I ain’t exactly hip. However, I understand who the target market is for this commercial ad. But, I believe that target market for any call to serve in my US Army should be one of patriotic duty, and joining a legacy of men and women of honor, courage, integrity, and character. I tend to believe that a gimmicky rap song is not needed to convey those timeless American qualities.

When we were needed, we were there, we were there when we were needed, we were there, Tho’ it wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always fair, But when freedom called, we answered, We were there!

Airborne, sir! Army Strong!