“Army Strong”

September 3, 2008 by Philip Barron  Email This Post Print This Post

You are doubtless familiar with the marketing slogan first announced by the United States Army in 2006: “There’s strong, and then there’s Army Strong.

In its battle to win the hearts and minds of recruiting-age Americans, the Army is replacing its main ad slogan — “An Army of One” — with one it hopes will pack more punch: “Army Strong.”

The new approach, the fruit of a $200 million-a-year contract with a major advertising agency, was announced Monday by Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey. He said “Army Strong” will be the centerpiece of a multimedia ad campaign to be launched Nov. 9, timed to coincide with Veterans Day weekend.

Army Secretary Harvey dispatched a message to “the Army family” extolling the concept:

Army Strong stands for a big idea. It speaks to the truth about the U.S. Army - that Soldiers develop mental, emotional and physical strength forged through shared values, teamwork, experience and training… that by making the decision to join the Army, an individual is choosing to recognize potential strength within him or herself and develop it further… that an individual Soldier is choosing to take charge of his or her future and career… that Soldiers actively choose to make a difference in their lives, their families, their communities and for their nation.

It is a big idea, echoed in television, radio, and online advertising, including the GoArmy.com website. The focus here is on the personal development of the individual soldier and the fostering of a very special kind of strength - that only the Army can provide - to aid in that development. Buried here, however, is the question: Strength for what?

An army is a collective, and its value lies in its collective force. Any soldier will acknowledge the crucial importance of teamwork, the blending of strengths in a common task. One of the most crucial common goals is support for fellow troops: taking care of the man - or woman - at your side, and leaving no soldier behind. “Army Strong” should mean that much if it means anything at all - and, again, it is hard to imagine that any soldier would find fault with that.

When the Army fails to take care of one soldier, then the Army’s strength has failed.

I began blogging about LaVena Johnson and launched the original petition to the two Armed Services Committees because of the Army’s blunt dismissal of the concerns of LaVena’s family over the investigation of her death. The service’s bureaucratic refusal to answer the Johnsons’ questions about how LaVena died and how Army investigators arrived at their conclusion of suicide was evidence of a failure to care about family - one military family in particular and by extension everyone in what former Secretary Harvey called “the Army family.”

In the absence of this fundamental support from upper echelons, it is up to each individual soldier on the ground - the men and women who served with LaVena - to provide the last act of caring possible now, to step forward and speak on her behalf. That would be an act of strength.

Though I am a civilian - I have never served in the military - I want very much to believe in an Army that cares for its own and fosters individual strength for noble common purpose. But when I see or hear those “Army Strong” advertisements, all I can think of is LaVena.


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4 Responses to ““Army Strong””

  1. Stand To Digest Sept 5- Sept 10 2008 - Freemason Hirams Travels Masonic Forums on September 10th, 2008 9:18 am

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  2. Kim Brummell on September 11th, 2008 12:12 pm

    As a veteran of the U.S. Army on a positive tip, they are capable of teaching you a lot that can carry with you throughout life. On the flipside of it, that organization is similar to being in a Mafia. They have several priorities. That is they strive for numbers and money. Often that can exclude their own soldier’s or comrades life. So that doesn’t make them an Army of one at all! So that slogan is a myth and generated for advertisement purposes which brings in money. That’s why in my opinion, national black magazines like JET and Essence haven’t did a front page story on Lavena’s case. Those suppose to be our voices, needless to say. If they don’t do it, we can’t expect CNN to do it. But they can jump all over O. J. Simpson case for killing two whites after a jury acquitted him. Not to say, he’s completely innocent. It will be justice in Lavena’s case even if we have to wait on the ultimate judge. That’s the man up above. GOD.

  3. Philip Barron on September 11th, 2008 12:51 pm

    That’s why in my opinion, national black magazines like JET and Essence haven’t did a front page story on Lavena’s case.

    Kim, you raise a good point. It was discussed by Vanessa Bush of Essence a while back; we blogged about here last year.

  4. Brenda on December 28th, 2008 2:59 pm

    It’s really sad what happen to PFC Johnson. The Army standards are just unacceptable it is very clear that someone murder this young lady. It’s definitely a cover up. I served in the military, they do know how to hide the truth and shut people mouths froms speaking the truth.