Caldera and The Increase in Latino Recruitment in the Army

It has already been shown how Caldera has been subservient to the overall imperialistic mission of U.S. foreign policy.  In his last years as Army secretary he helped implement a new strategy for the Army to bring it up to changing environments in modern times.  Part of this strategy involved getting new recruits for this new army.  Caldera saw a goldmine in the number of Hispanics who would be potential recruits in the Army.  By the time he left the Army had new recruitment strategies, more Hispanics serving, and a new logo and slogan.

As written before, Caldera resided over a change of strategy for the Army.  Part of this dealt with recruitment.  Not only would the army be doing new missions but they would need more recruits to do those missions.  It was also a reaction to the difficulties the Army was having in getting and keeping recruits.  They had to compete with a tight labor market then when the economy was doing well.  As their traditional targets have been high school graduates who were not immediately attending college, this pool was shrinking as higher education was becoming more accessible.  In fiscal year 1999 the Army fell short of its recruiting goal by 8 percent, falling 6,500 recruits short of its goal of 74,500 soldiers, along with 10,300 short of its goal of 52,000 reservists.  This was the largest gap of any of the services, and met its personnel needs that year only due to reenlistments.  It spent $115 million on advertising for recruits that year, the most of any service in the military. (McCarthy)

Caldera also saw the potential of the Hispanic market.  The Hispanic population in the U.S. was growing, and by 2050 it would be 25 percent.  Yet they dominate the low wage work force, and due to lower educational levels their median income was lower.  Back in 1999 Hispanics made up 13 percent of the population but only 7 percent of Army personnel.  The number of Hispanic recruits that year was better at 10 percent, but Caldera wanted it higher.  He also wanted the number of Hispanic officers to increase, which then was only 3.5 percent.  As it takes 20 to 30 years to grow a general Caldera wanted to start immediately.  Despite a report that year that showed at least 3/4 of all non-white military personnel experienced some sort of racially offensive experience in the military, Caldera said that the military shows that multiculturalism can work.

That year Caldera held summits with many Hispanic leaders in cities across the country, bringing the message that the Army wants more Hispanics.  One problem was the high dropout rate among Hispanics, which at 30 percent (some states it was 50 percent) was higher than the national average.  As before the Army only accepted high school graduates many Hispanics were written off by the Army.  One of the solutions Caldera proposed was for the Army to pick up the tab for potential recruits to complete their GED.  In return the young recruits would pledge to enlist after it was completed.

Under the Army High School Completion program, also called GED Plus,  launched in February 2000, the Army paid for recruits to enlist in a GED program in their own community, and those who passed would go to basic training.  The recruits would also have to pass motivational tests and have a clean record with the law.  Caldera said this “will open up a whole new market” for Army recruiters, hoping to attract 4,800 to 6,000 recruits a year, a good part of the 80,000 recruits the Army needs each year.  It was expected that 80 percent of these new recruits would be Hispanic.

The Army also created new incentives for college.  Caldera brought in the College First program offering recruits two years of college after they enlist, then serve two years of active duty with the Army.  They also looked into retooling barracks like dorm rooms, where soldiers would have more internet access.  They were also looking at expanding the ROTC program on college campuses.  During the downsizing of the Army in the 90‘s the ROTC programs went from 416 in 1990 to 270 in 2000.  Caldera also created an online university, Army University Access Online, overseen by PricewaterhouseCoopers management company.  It chose 29 colleges out of 1,000 that applied, part of a $453 million contract in 2000.  12,000 to 15,000 soldiers were expected to participate.  These program also serves Army goals.  As it is becoming a lighter, more deployable force, the Army needs recruits who have broader skills, for a more mobile army, and to be more adept for new high tech weapons of war.  It needed more intelligent, educated recruits.  Caldera stated since the army is changing it needs to offer recruits a more academic program.  “You need warriors but you need educated warriors,” he said.  It also was struggling with the public opinion of military service, where very few young people felt the military was relevant in their life, and even fewer were considering careers in military service.

New Marketing Strategies

With this new emphasis on recruiting, especially of Latinos, Caldera implemented a new marketing strategy for the Army, to make it more hip, to attract more youth.  Part of this was a revamped website, at  It would have more video games and simulations similar to training used for helicopters and ground vehiches.  They would do more “e-recruiting”, using ads on the internet.  They would buy cheaper advertising in cable, syndication, and spot media, and rely less on advertising in national and sports ads.

Caldera created a four person marketing office at the Pentagon, hiring McKinsey and Company and the RAND corporation to review its marketing practices and do surveys of potential recruits.  Other studies have shown that recruits want more self-gratification, the services needed a clearer image of themselves, more research on current attitudes on the military, and fewer ads during sporting events.  The Army needed stronger brand recognition.  It created a new logo, part of a transformation of its marketing strategies.

The Army also obtained a new advertising agency.  They dropped Young and Rubicon of New York, who created the “Be All You Can Be” slogan and employed by the Army since 1987.  They used marketing consultants Jones-Lundin Associates in Chicago to shop around.  They finally hired a new advertising agency in June 2000, Leo Burnett Worldwide.Inc., also in Chicago, to make their new commercials.  Because of the decision to limit the search for new ad agencies  to ones with minimum billings of $350 million served to exclude minority-owned and female-owned firms, the new account was pitched as a partnership giving the Army more flexibility to hire these types of firms.  Leo Burnett would work with two minority-owned partners: Cartel Creativo of San Antonio, which specialized in marketing to Hispanics; and Images USA, which specialized in marketing to African-Americans.  Furthermore, these new contracts would be performance based.  Using the same tactics as consumer product companies, Caldera made the contract to give additional financial rewards if recruiting goals were met.  Overall, the goals was to recruit more minorities, especially Hispanics.

Caldera, the highest-ranking Latino to serve in the Department of Defense, explicitly made it a goal to recruit more minorities, especially Hispanics, in the Army.  About 40 percent of recruits then were non-white, with 30 percent African-American and 8 percent Hispanic.  Caldera said the Hispanic community is “potentially a growing market” for the Army.  The $380 million advertising campaign started in 2000 was geared for that.

With this a new slogan was brought in by Caldera for the new Army.  As he was on his way out as his term as Secretary was ending, the Army unveiled its new slogan: “An Army of One.”  It was created by Leo Burnett, and unveiled on January 10, 2001.  It was to appeal to the individualism and independence of modern youth, in contrast to the prevalent view that military life was dehumanizing.  As Caldera stated, “The ‘Army of One’ campaign focused on the strength and teamwork of the U.S. Army as a united force of many soldiers, while reinforcing the concept that each individual makes a unique contribution to the Army’s success.”  The Army would do a vast multimedia campaign, playing the ads on sitcoms and popular tv shows, along with its interactive internet site.  The ads would use real soldiers instead of actors.  It would emphasize “212 ways to be a soldier.”  All the new ads were sure to show soldiers who were people of color, to attract their new audience.

The ads would target Hispanics specifically.  Spanish language media would be used profusely.  The ads in Spanish would be “Yo Soy El Army,” or I Am the Army.  The Army would still be used in English to differentiate it from Latin American armies, make it truly American.  The targeted ad for Spanish speakers was done because it was similar to Army of One, but accounted for Hispanic cultural differences “such as the need to fit in and be embraced,” according to Victoria Hudson of Cartel Creativo.

The new advertising campaign went into effect in the beginning of the Bush administration, just as Caldera was leaving.  Caldera laid the groundwork for a vast increase of Latinos in the Army.  This was just before the start of the War on Terror, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

I will further explore the effects of Latinos in the military in later articles, all the result of the effects Caldera put in.


Pexton, Patrick B.  “Dropouts Into Soldiers.”  Washington Post.  October 1, 1999.  Pg. A33.

Suro, Roberto and Bradley Graham.  “Army Plans Lighter, More Mobile Forces; New Armored Vehicles, Recruiting Strategy Part of Push to Change With the Times.”  Washington Post.  October 8, 1999. Pg. A4.

Levins, Harry.  “Secretary of the Army Wants to Recruit More Hispanics For Military Service; He Says the Army is the Most Integrated Institution in America.”  St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri).  December 9, 1999.  Pg. A4.

Suro, Roberto.  “Army Plans New College Program to Aid Recruits; Privates Could Earn Associate Degree Online.”  Washington Post.  December 10, 1999.  Pg. A1.

Levins, Harry.  “Army’s New Pitch: Join and Get a Diploma; St. Louis Area Is One of the Test Regions for New Project.”  St. Louis Post Dispatch.  February 4, 2000.  Pg. A1.

“The Honorable Louis Caldera Secretary of the Army On The Posture of the United States Army And The Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Request.”  March 22, 2000. (accessed 6/18/2004).

Coryell, George.  “Army Uses School To Hook Recruits.”  Tampa Tribune (Florida).  April 12, 2000.  Pg. 5.

McCarthy, Michael.  “Army Enlists Net To Be All It Can Be.  Military Plans New Focus on Marketing.”  USA Today.  April 19, 2000.  Pg. 10B.

Stone, Andrea.  “Services Strive for Ways to Increase Students’ Participation in ROTC.”  USA Today.  June 19, 2000.  Pg. 10A.

Hearst News Service.  “Army Gears Recruit Drive to Minorities; Starts $380 million ad push to fill ranks.”  San Diego Union-Tribune.  June 28, 2000.  Pg. A12.

Vishnevsky, Zina.  “Army Secretary: Intelligent Recruits Key To Success.”  Cleveland Plain Dealer.  July 15, 2000.  Pg. 9A.

Suro. Roberto.  “Army Ads Open New Campaign: Finish Education.”  Washington Post.  September 21, 2000.  Pg. A3.

Davidson, Lee.  “USU Part of Army’s Online University.”  Deseret News (Salt Lake City).  December 21, 2000.  Pg. A24.

Dao, James.  “Ads Now Seek Recruits for ‘An Army of One.’”  New York Times.  January 10, 2001.  Pg. A1.

Army Public Affairs.  “Army to Change Advertising Slogan.”  Soundoff (website) (accessed 11/13/2003).

Burlas, Joe (Army News Service).  “New Army Campaign Targets Young People.”  Soundoff.  (accessed 11/13/2003).

Burlas, Joe (Army News Service).  “Army Gets New Slogan, Logo.” (Accessed 11/13/2003)


About elloborojo

Okay, as the subtitle states, this is a notebook from what I call a New Mexico diaspora (look up diaspora if you are asking). I was a former resident of New Mexico, now living elsewhere, but New Mexico is still my homeland. To get more in touch with your homeland one must be away from it. This is my attempt to understand it. I was a former anti-militarism activist in the Albuquerque area. Still believe that United Snakes militarism is the greatest threat to the world, as do the majority of the worlds population. Uncovered much information about the ties in New Mexico, but never processed it all. This blog is an attempt to do that. Also hope it may come of use to others with similar interests.
This entry was posted in Army, Louis Caldera, Universities, University of New Mexico. Bookmark the permalink.

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