This chapter examines how the Army, the largest of the service branches, has confronted the challenge of recruiting a volunteer force. Over the course of the all-volunteer force (AVF), the Army has frequently made economic appeals, showcasing service as a path to economic security and upward mobility. Army recruiting ads have offered good jobs, technical training, and, increasingly, access to professional careers. Army recruiting materials in the second half of the AVF have sometimes forged links between civilian careers and militaristic imagery. In addition to promising the excitement of military action, these ads bring together more traditional forms of military masculinity with newer, business-world forms of masculinity that are gaining prominence in the larger culture. In this way, I would argue, the Army is making a bridge between the older forms of masculinity with which Army service had been associated and forms that are becoming hegemonic in the civilian world, a bridge that serves both to revitalize Army masculinity, making it seem more up-to-date, and to validate the business world as a source of status and prestige for young men.
The Army has also promised character development and personal transformation, developing a soldiering masculinity that involves young men testing and proving themselves. While this form of masculinity relies on the traditional warrior trope of facing a challenge and demonstrating strength and courage, and it involves displays of weaponry and other visual markers of warriorhood, the Army’s version of soldiering masculinity is accessible and personified by “regular guys.” As fits a military branch that needs to attract large numbers of recruits, in the Army, manhood seems to be a goal within reach of the average young man. The Army, more so than any other service, has also created many ads—especially those touting specific educational benefits— that could be read as gender neutral. In addition, the Army has used images of