US Army looks to social media for Midwest recruitment

NDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Army recruiters in Indiana and other Midwestern states where recruitment has consistently fallen short are exploring other recruitment tactics, such as social media, as they try to convince young people to enlist.

Data from the 3rd Recruiting Brigade shows that the group hasn't been meeting recruiting goals since 2012, The Indianapolis Star reported . The brigade covers Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Great Lakes, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Nashville.

Col. Eric Lopez, of the 3rd Recruiting Brigade said there's a "growing divide between America and its Army."

"The Army is becoming increasingly southern," he said. "We're not getting the regional diversity that we want in the Army. We're (also) becoming more rural, so we're losing the urban centers of the Northeast and the Midwest, just like here in Indianapolis."

While the Army has increased its recruiters, it's relied on outdated methods, such as going door-to-door, that don't resonate with young people, said Emma Moore, a research assistant in the Military, Veterans and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

"They're hitting the sidewalk, and in our digitized world, that's really insufficient," she said.

Lopez said recruiters are now spreading their message on social media sites, like Instagram and Facebook.

"I post on Instagram almost every single day," Lopez said. "It's funny; Generation Z and millennials live on social media, and in the past, we did not do a good job of connecting with them where they're at."

Lopez said recruiters are also working to create a strong presence in communities. He said recruiters are often coaches, tutors and mentors, figures young people can respect.