Friday, July 13, 2012

General Says National Guard Will Remain In NASCAR, If Allowed

Just days after the U.S. Army confirmed that it will end its sponsorship of Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet next season, a spokesman indicated that the National Guard is pleased with its presence in the sport, and plans to stay.

Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett, Jr
Retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., President of the National Guard Association of the United States, said NASCAR continues to be a viable marketing tool, and will remain a part of the Guard’s program in 2013. "There is an effort underway in Congress to prohibit the U.S. military from sponsoring professional motorsports as part of military recruiting, “said Hargett Friday, referencing an amendment to House bill H.R. 5856, which is scheduled for a vote late next week. “On the surface, this may seem like a good idea in the face of current fiscal challenges. But a closer look reveals that such a ban would provide no real savings and only serve to hinder Defense Department efforts to reach the most qualified potential recruits.

"Recruiting for our all-volunteer force isn't what it used to be,” said Hargett. “Only one in four young people is even eligible to join (the military). And television advertising no longer carries the payoff it once did. Today, you have to know how smart, fit young people think, where they live and play, and go to them. The Army National Guard learned these lessons a few years ago.”

The said the Guard abandoned conventional recruiting methods and focused its resources on a more innovative marketing mix that tied its message to popular musicians and motorsports. “:It was a bold move,” admitted Hargett, “but it paid off.

"Recruiting steadily improved, both in terms of the quantity and quality of the applicants. Today, the Army National Guard has the fittest, most intelligent force in its history. Other military services noticed and have taken similar approaches.”

Hargett said the National Guard evaluates its involvement in NASCAR annually, and said a time could come when the sport is no longer a good fit. “The link between military recruiting and motorsports is temporary,” he said. “The results prove it's a match that works today. It may not in the future when other approaches may provide a better payoff.”

He also criticized Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) -- authors of the House amendment -- for attempting to tie the hands of the military and restrict where it can spend its marketing dollars. He applauded them “for asking tough questions about how and where scarce defense dollars are spent,” but added, “we believe military marketing experts should evaluate return on investment and determine without restriction where best to put increasingly scarce recruiting dollars."


  1. Anonymous7:09 PM

    Nice picture of CW5 Thomas "Gary" Ensminger, Command Chief Warrant Officer of the Tennessee Army National Guard. Don't know why it's relevant since he was not mentioned or quoted in the article. Maybe someone thinks he looks like a Major General. Hmmm.

    1. Apologies for the misidentified photo, it has been corrected. Thanks for the heads-up!