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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Pentagon takes to the skies to find fresh cannon fodder

With recruiting in the dumpster, the Pentagon will try anything to bring in fresh meat.

Hit by one of its most difficult recruiting periods in decades, the Defense Department is paying United Airlines to show passengers a Pentagon-produced video touting military jobs.

The 13-minute video “Today’s Military” is played between standard in-flight programming, such as NBC sitcoms or Discovery Channel productions, the Chicago Tribune reported.

It profiles five military jobs, none in dangerous regions such as Iraq or Afghanistan. The video shows only one soldier beyond U.S. borders: an Army animal-care specialist on a humanitarian mission in Thailand.

The Defense Department is paying United about $36,000 to run the video from April 17 through May 17, said Lt. Bradley Terrill, project officer for the video.

By the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, the Army closed out one of its most difficult recruiting periods in decades, falling more than 6,600 recruits short of its annual goal of 80,000. It was the first shortfall since 1999, and the largest in 26 years.

It was unclear whether the military has contracts to show the video on other commercial airlines. Lt. Col. Todd Vician, a Pentagon spokesman, told The Associated Press on Sunday that he could not immediately provide more information on the video.

United said it’s not unusual for companies to pay for promotional spots on flights.

Tom Bivins, a professor of media ethics at the University of Oregon, said the military’s omission of production credits on the video is questionable.

“People need to realize they are being advertised to,” Bivins said.