Quote of the Day: Arrrmy Training!

 

Yesterday was the United States Army’s 244th birthday, 14 June 2019. For a brief background on how the Army came into existence, and the tie to Flag Day, also celebrated each 14th of June, see “Celebrating the Flag and the Army on June 14th.” On this occasion, consider the Army through the lenses of recruiting slogans and a song. What’s with the photograph? Wait until we get to the song.

Recruiting Slogans in the All-Volunteer Force:

As the Vietnam War dragged on, with abysmal political and senior military leadership until far too late, it became clear that we needed a new solution to military manpower demands. For most of our nation’s long history, we had a very small professional army. In this regard, we were similar to our parent nation, with its “thin red line.” Yet, that very small force, occasionally reinforced with militia and temporarily authorized volunteer units, won the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurgency, and the near-century-long dusty slog of the American Indian Wars. Those are just the highlights and do not include the Marine Corps’ illustrious history, the story of our other elite infantry force. Now we needed a force that would be entirely professional, and yet far larger than the old Regular Army.

Enter the ad men. Here, in a series of one line slogans, is the history of our efforts to build and sustain a larger professional Army, starting in 1971:

1971: “Today’s Army Wants to Join You”

1973: “Join the People Who’ve Joined the Army”

1978: “This is the Army” [Not to be confused with the 1943 Irving Berlin musical, This is the Army, whose cast included Ronald Reagan.]

These three slogans map the decade-long struggle to find the right message. Recruiters had to both solicit a large number of applicants for a large number of positions, and attract the right applicants. The Army needed people who would embrace the Army way for at least several years, the time needed to train and fully integrate professional soldiers.

You can see the start point was an Army desperate to overcome the old image of dragooning men into short term, involuntary service. That first pitch fell flat, leading to the correction in tone, suggesting that the Army was a great community that you should desire to join. “This is the Army” was about narratives in images inspiring young people, still almost exclusively men, to join an attractive organization.

All the recruiting slogans and Madison Avenue wizardry could not, in the long run, overcome the message of neglect from Congress allowing equipment to age. With the great infusion of new generation equipment, in the Reagan buildup, came a new wave of messages to potential recruits, their families, and communities.

1981: Be All You Can Be

This slogan, and its earworm jingle, was so successful that it was rated the number two jingle in the 20th Century by Ad Age. Inside the long “Be All You Can Be” campaign, a subordinate message was very popular with the troops: “we do more before 9 am than most people do in a day.”

With our victory in the Cold War, there was a slight turning back to the idea of a peace dividend and a significantly smaller professional military. In that context, nine months before 9/11, a new slogan was launched:

2001: “Army of One”

This slogan was hooted at by soldiers. After all, in its plain sense, it contradicts Army culture. You most certainly were not going to get to be your own special self, unless “your own special self” conformed to the big Green Machine. All military entry training is about transforming recruits, so the slogan became an instant joke. Nevertheless, it was allowed to linger until 2006. Finally, common sense prevailed.

2006: “Army Strong”

Here, the message is about individuals gaining power, growing in strength, through membership in the Army. Yet, “Army Strong” does not come close to the message power of “Be All You Can Be.” Whatever the ad slogan, people were making up their minds and volunteering in the near certain knowledge that they would be sent in harms’ way. Now, as we experience a lull in the long war, the powers that be have rolled out a new Army recruiting pitch to Generation Z, the generation after the Millennials (Gen Y):

2018: “Warriors Wanted”

This aligns with what desirable recruits are expecting, based on the past 18 years experience. Aligning with this slogan, the Army announced, and started enforcing, tougher physical qualification tests. The challenge will be for small unit leaders, backed by Big Army, to carry through on the promise of meaningful, challenging training, to not have “Warriors Wanted” become a cynical joke for the troops.

This matters to you because the Army has been, and always will be, the largest land force, the 800-pound guerilla facing both large predator states and guerrillas. It is simultaneously truth that the Army vitally depends on the other services and that the other services cannot impose our nation’s will for long against significant armed land opposition without Army involvement.

So, the Army Birthday is worth celebrating. On this occasion, currently serving members and veterans gather and sing the Army Song. Each of our armed services has a good organizational song, fitting each service’s culture. A 2006 article, “Army recruiting messages help keep Army rolling along,” evoked the Army’s theme song: “The Army Keeps Rolling Along.”

Wait, that can’t be right. The song goes: “the caissons keep rolling along.” Well, yes and no. Yes, the original song was an unofficial official theme for the Army. Caissons are the ammunition carriers of the horse-drawn era. The lyrics paint a picture of actual drills, maneuvers or “plays” that would be called to move and position artillery during a battle. The score is a bouncy tune, calling to mind the pre-pneumatic tires and shocks wagon experience. Listen to a recording of “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” and the picture above comes into new focus.

“The Caissons Go Rolling Along.”

Over hill, over dale
As we hit the dusty trail,
And those caissons go rolling along.
In and out, hear them shout,
Counter march and right about,
And those caissons go rolling along.

Refrain:
Then it’s hi! hi! hee!
In the field artillery,
Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
For where e’er you go,
You will always know
That those caissons go rolling along.

–Edmund Louis “Snitz” Gruber, et al.

The traditional Army culture was dominated by infantry and artillery, before the mechanized era of armor. Indeed, infantry is still at the center of the Army identity, the “Queen of Battle.” Artillerists have long cited Frederick the Great:

Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.

The truth, of course, is dependent on your perspective. More precisely, it depends on which end of the gun tube you are facing. This classic George Finley caricature, frequently seen as a framed print in officers’ homes or offices, shows both sides:

It was, perhaps, inevitable that the brass would mess with tradition. The caissons gave way to “the Army.” But why is the Army “rolling” instead of “marching” along? Well, to quote the mechanized infantry:

Why march when you can ride?

So, those of us who celebrate today will sing:

“The Army Song”

Verse: First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And The Army Goes Rolling Along
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.

Refrain: Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army’s on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!)
For where e’er we go,
You will always know
That The Army Goes Rolling Along.

Yes, this omits the awkward introduction added in 2013 that some senior sort added for a bullet on his or her resume. Yes, there are two more sort of clunky verses. But, brevity is best, and one verse with a refrain tells the story best. Naturally, a June 14th birthday boy also wished the Army a happy birthday:

Presidential Message on the 244th Birthday of the United States Army
Issued on: June 14, 2019

As Commander in Chief, I am pleased to join our grateful Nation in celebrating the 244th birthday of the United States Army.

For nearly two and a half centuries, the United States Army has been synonymous with duty, honor, and discipline. As part of the most elite fighting force the world has ever seen, our soldiers fiercely defend our national security at home and abroad. From the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States Army has been instrumental in ensuring that America remains a shining beacon of hope and freedom around the world.

Last week, we commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The United States Army’s role was paramount to the success of Operation Overlord on that day and our subsequent victory in the European Theatre of World War II. Seventy-five years later, the men and women of the United States Army continue to fearlessly execute their roles as the guardians of freedom. Today, we commend our brave soldiers, both past and present, for their steadfast resolve, their vigilant defense of the values we hold dear, and their love of country.

May God watch over all the men and women of our Armed Forces and their families, and may He continue to bless the United States of America.

Why, thank you, Mr. President, and a happy birthday to you as well! May you and America’s Army prosper for many more years, and may our flag fly over a free people living in a land of ordered liberty for many more seasons! Let the Army go rolling along under that grand old flag.

.

Published in Group Writing
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There are 38 comments.

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  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    A virtual slice of Army Birthday cake to the first commentator to cite to the pop culture source.

    • #1
    • June 14, 2019, at 5:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. Bishop Wash Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    A virtual slice of Army Birthday cake to the first commentator to cite to the pop culture source.

    Stripes of course.

    • #2
    • June 14, 2019, at 5:20 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  3. Bishop Wash Member

    Happy Birthday Army, from a member of the Chair Force.

    • #3
    • June 14, 2019, at 5:26 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Vectorman Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown: This matters to you because the Army has been, and always will be, the largest land force, the 800 pound guerilla facing both large predator states and guerrillas. It is simultaneously truth that the Army vitally depends on the other services and that the other services cannot impose our nation’s will for long against significant armed land opposition without Army involvement.

    So true, and thank you.

    One conundrum is the status of the A-10 Warthog. The Air Force says they own it, but the Army uses it most effectively.

    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. We have only 3 days left on the June Signup SheetWe even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #4
    • June 14, 2019, at 5:59 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. Bishop Wash Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: This matters to you because the Army has been, and always will be, the largest land force, the 800 pound guerilla facing both large predator states and guerrillas. It is simultaneously truth that the Army vitally depends on the other services and that the other services cannot impose our nation’s will for long against significant armed land opposition without Army involvement.

    So true, and thank you.

    One conundrum is the status of the A-10 Warthog. The Air Force says they own it, but the Army uses it most effectively.

    I was deployed with an A-10 pilot in our planning group and he had some interesting thoughts on how it could be used. At Davis-Monthan, a coworker’s husband was a pilot and got our office in the simulator. The pilots have so much love for the plane. 

    There’s been talk of turning it over to the Army but different rumors claim the reason for it not happening. I haven’t studied it but on the surface looks like a good idea. 

    • #5
    • June 14, 2019, at 6:40 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. EJHill Podcaster

    We kid because we love.

    • #6
    • June 14, 2019, at 7:06 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  7. OldDanRhody Member

    Clifford A. Brown: 2001: “Army of One”

    Yeah, I always wondered what genius came up with that one.

    • #7
    • June 14, 2019, at 8:05 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. Boss Mongo Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    We kid because we love.

    Love gettin’ your asses kicked.

    • #8
    • June 14, 2019, at 8:05 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Boss Mongo Member

    I never really liked the Army song. Didn’t really know the words and then suddenly there’d be a requirement to starting singing it. 

    • #9
    • June 14, 2019, at 8:07 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    What a trip down memory lane! One of the first songs my dad taught me to sing when I was 4 or 5 was When The Caissons Go Rolling Along.

    And the music for Be All You Can Be was written by Jake Holmes who had his own recording career for a while in the 60s. I saw him twice perform at The Bitter End in 1967. He’s also the composer (though uncredited for 40 years) of Dazed and Confused.

     

    • #10
    • June 14, 2019, at 8:40 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Boss Mongo Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    I never really liked the Army song. Didn’t really know the words and then suddenly there’d be a requirement to starting singing it.

    It keeps ‘Muricans ‘Murican

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNTydaw_Jh0

    • #11
    • June 14, 2019, at 9:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    EJHill (View Comment):

    We kid because we love.

     

    I always poke fun at my son (a Marine) with this one:

    • #12
    • June 14, 2019, at 10:27 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  13. Stad Thatcher

    I remember the “Pride Runs Deep” motto used by the submarine service.

    Nonetheless, Happy Birthday Army!

    OTOH:

     

    • #13
    • June 15, 2019, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  14. Richard Finlay Member

    Speaking of slogans, I used to joke (in those ancient pre-humor-free days) about the Marines’ * various slogans. Over the years, I have inferred that there ARE a few proud ones**, but they are still looking for a few GOOD*** ones.

    (I was engaged in an engagement at the USMC finance center in Kansas City when I first was inspired to reveal this to the group of LTCs on the project. I thought it was very clever. They were polite.)

    *For whom, I, of course, have nothing but total admiration and respect, despite their tendency to default to frontal assaults. I rank them well ahead of our Navy and Air Force brethren. Except, of course for the Warthog drivers, who are really Army General Support Direct Fire Artillery personnel trapped in the wrong uniform.

    ** The few, the proud, the Marines.

    ***The Marines are looking for a few good men.

    • #14
    • June 15, 2019, at 10:05 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Richard Finlay Member

    The Infantry adds color to what would otherwise be a stuffy affair.

    I have been looking unsuccessfully for the cartoon poster illustrating this, prominent during my relevant tenure some 50+ years ago. Does anyone out there know where to find it?

    • #15
    • June 15, 2019, at 10:07 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. James Gawron Thatcher

    Cliff,

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #16
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:12 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    The Infantry adds color to what would otherwise be a stuffy affair.

    I have been looking unsuccessfully for the cartoon poster illustrating this, prominent during my relevant tenure some 50+ years ago. Does anyone out there know where to find it?

    I recall this but also can’t find. The illustration had a group of dandified officers seated around a table and an infantryman rolling a grenade into the room, if I remember rightly.

    • #17
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:25 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Skyler Coolidge

     

    Clifford A. Brown: Why march when you can ride?

    We had some Somali officers train with us in 1985, a few years before that country collapsed. They had recently switched their allegiance from the USSR to the US and these men had previously trained with the Soviets. Their chief complaint was: “In the USSR, they don’t have very many trucks, but we rode everywhere we went. In the US they have so many trucks, so why are we walking everywhere we go?”

    • #18
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:43 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  19. Skyler Coolidge

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):
    (I was engaged in an engagement at the USMC finance center in Kansas City when I first was inspired to reveal this to the group of LTCs on the project. I thought it was very clever. They were polite.)

    Ahem, perhaps because they were not “LTC’s.” They were LtCol’s. The Marines always thought it undignified to change our rank abbreviations to accommodate computers.

    My favorite recruiting slogan was short-lived.

     

    • #19
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:46 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Skyler Coolidge

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    I was deployed with an A-10 pilot in our planning group and he had some interesting thoughts on how it could be used. At Davis-Monthan, a coworker’s husband was a pilot and got our office in the simulator. The pilots have so much love for the plane. 

    There’s been talk of turning it over to the Army but different rumors claim the reason for it not happening. I haven’t studied it but on the surface looks like a good idea. 

    Really, what we need are fewer services, not more. The space force is a joke. The air force needs to be returned to the army where it belongs. Air power is far too important to take away from control by the ground commander.

    So, my birthday wish to the army is to reincorporate the air force. Don’t ask, just do it. They’ll only fight back with power point.

     

    • #20
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:53 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Skyler Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown: It is simultaneously truth that the Army vitally depends on the other services and that the other services cannot impose our nation’s will for long against significant armed land opposition without Army involvement.

    The army definitely does not depend on the Marines, except in our role to develop amphibious doctrine. Otherwise, we sponge off the army and navy shamelessly. The real value of the Marine Corps is to have an alternative perspective on how to fight, which keeps the army from getting stuck in doctrinaire ruts.

    • #21
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:55 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Steve C. Member

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    The Infantry adds color to what would otherwise be a stuffy affair.

    I have been looking unsuccessfully for the cartoon poster illustrating this, prominent during my relevant tenure some 50+ years ago. Does anyone out there know where to find it?

    No. But I do have this one. Purchased at the Armor School in the Jurassic Era when tank models were designated with more than 2 characters.

     

    • #22
    • June 15, 2019, at 9:18 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Boss Mongo Member

    “I’d like to have two armies: one for display with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, staffs, distinguished and doddering Generals, and dear little regimental officers who would be deeply concerned over their General’s bowel movements or their Colonel’s piles, an army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country. The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage uniforms, who would not be put on display, but from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That’s the army in which I should like to fight.”

    Jean Lartéguy

    • #23
    • June 16, 2019, at 3:40 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  24. Richard Finlay Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):
    (I was engaged in an engagement at the USMC finance center in Kansas City when I first was inspired to reveal this to the group of LTCs on the project. I thought it was very clever. They were polite.)

    Ahem, perhaps because they were not “LTC’s.” They were LtCol’s. The Marines always thought it undignified to change our rank abbreviations to accommodate computers.

    My favorite recruiting slogan was short-lived.

     

     

    Another example of the Marines’ profligacy with scarce resources. When we run out of ‘t’s, ‘o’s, and ‘l’s (‘T’s are in much greater supply), you will know who to blame.

    • #24
    • June 16, 2019, at 4:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Skyler Coolidge

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):
    (I was engaged in an engagement at the USMC finance center in Kansas City when I first was inspired to reveal this to the group of LTCs on the project. I thought it was very clever. They were polite.)

    Ahem, perhaps because they were not “LTC’s.” They were LtCol’s. The Marines always thought it undignified to change our rank abbreviations to accommodate computers.

    My favorite recruiting slogan was short-lived.

     

     

    Another example of the Marines’ profligacy with scarce resources. When we run out of ‘t’s, ‘o’s, and ‘l’s (‘T’s are in much greater supply), you will know who to blame.

    Now that’s funny!

    • #25
    • June 16, 2019, at 4:56 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Steve C. Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):
    (I was engaged in an engagement at the USMC finance center in Kansas City when I first was inspired to reveal this to the group of LTCs on the project. I thought it was very clever. They were polite.)

    Ahem, perhaps because they were not “LTC’s.” They were LtCol’s. The Marines always thought it undignified to change our rank abbreviations to accommodate computers.

    My favorite recruiting slogan was short-lived.

     

     

    Another example of the Marines’ profligacy with scarce resources. When we run out of ‘t’s, ‘o’s, and ‘l’s (‘T’s are in much greater supply), you will know who to blame.

    Now that’s funny!

    Because it’s true.

    • #26
    • June 17, 2019, at 8:27 AM PDT
    • Like
  27. Joe Boyle Member

    I was an Army recruiter during the “Be All You Can Be” days. Recruiting Command was fresh from a scandal. Allegedly good soldiers crushed by demanding, unreasonable “quotas” were forced to cheat. The cheating involved ASVAB testing, physical problem reporting, and undisclosed criminal records. I was welcomed into the new, friendly, no pressure Recruiting Command. Granted, I was an E7, at the bottom, rookie, with a pin hole view. The reforms included processes meant to detect cheating For example, I was introduced to Standard Deviation Score which caught ASVAB cheaters. We didn’t have quotas, we had missions and the pressure to make mission was unreal. The statistical record keeping was such that the chain of command knew who was going to make mission weeks and months in advance. So, being a smart guy I learned recruiting was an all day everyday job. The professional training was double speak. A man rejected for bee allergy would bring this response. Do you think Johnny went through all this paper and trouble only to be rejected for bee sing. Now there are people in the Army with bee allergies but no one entered the Army with a bee allergy. What if Johnny had known this prior to his long bus ride to the MEPS. If Johnny tells you he has a record you must check. If he doesn’t tell you or anyone else (including the scary Marine at MEPS) then there will be no check. Unreal pressure, If you wanted to meet your entire pissed off chain of command, don’t make mission. The Colonel who asks “Are you going to make mission?”already knows you’re not and your life is going to suck and the career you had planned is over.

    I met many good honest recruiters but most, including me, were pedaling as fast as they could

     

     

     

    • #27
    • June 17, 2019, at 8:35 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  28. Boss Mongo Member

    Joe Boyle (View Comment):
    I met many good honest recruiters but most, including me, were pedaling as fast as they could

    @joeboyle, I had one good friend that was a Recruiting Command battalion S3, and two that were Battalion Commanders. Listening to them (maybe over a libation or four), I’d rather be in Iraq any day of the week, any week of the month, and any month of the year.

    • #28
    • June 17, 2019, at 4:13 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Joe Boyle Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Joe Boyle (View Comment):
    I met many good honest recruiters but most, including me, were pedaling as fast as they could

    @joeboyle, I had one good friend that was a Recruiting Command battalion S3, and two that were Battalion Commanders. Listening to them (maybe over a libation or four), I’d rather be in Iraq any day of the week, any week of the month, and any month of the year.

    Every day of every week, my career and the careers of my chain of command were right in the palm of my hand. I was present during a few “counseling” sessions. They always started with “How’s your wife? Kids OK? Is there anything in your life I should know about?” Then let the mayhem begin. Desks overturned, trash cans kicked around, and called everything but a child of God. I was never in the line of fire but hapless recruiter in the open, fire for effect, sure looked like fun.

    • #29
    • June 17, 2019, at 4:46 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Skyler Coolidge

    Joe Boyle (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Joe Boyle (View Comment):
    I met many good honest recruiters but most, including me, were pedaling as fast as they could

    @joeboyle, I had one good friend that was a Recruiting Command battalion S3, and two that were Battalion Commanders. Listening to them (maybe over a libation or four), I’d rather be in Iraq any day of the week, any week of the month, and any month of the year.

    Every day of every week, my career and the careers of my chain of command were right in the palm of my hand. I was present during a few “counseling” sessions. They always started with “How’s your wife? Kids OK? Is there anything in your life I should know about?” Then let the mayhem begin. Desks overturned, trash cans kicked around, and called everything but a child of God. I was never in the line of fire but hapless recruiter in the open, fire for effect, sure looked like fun.

    Desks overturned? Yeah, that’s when I ask to speak to a general officer.

    • #30
    • June 17, 2019, at 5:23 PM PDT
    • Like
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