|Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett, Jr|
"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."