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Army 4-star talks renewed 'Be all you can be' slogan in San Diego

A classic U.S. Army slogan is back as the service looks to freshen its appeal to a new generation of recruits after missing its recruiting goal by 15,000 soldiers last year.

Potential recruits were told they could "be all you can be" in Army recruiting commercials in the 1980s and 90s. On Wednesday, Army leaders officially renewed the slogan, saying in a statement recruits can find "purpose" and "pursue your passions" if they join."

Gen. Gary Brito, the commanding general of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, was in San Diego Wednesday at an Army job fair for local high school Junior ROTC students. He said the slogan spoke not just to the nostalgia of the old commercials but to the timeless appeal of the message.


"Be all you can be truly represents an opportunity … for all young men and women out there regardless of their station in life (or) demographic — doesn’t matter.” Brito said.

In 2022, the Army missed its recruiting goal by 25% — a number Army leaders, including Brito, attribute that in part to civilian competition and a tight labor market.

Some Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Tommy Tuberville, of Alabama, and other conservative figures pointed to Pentagon policies they described as "woke" as a cause of the shortfall.

"Woke," a slang term originating in the Black community to describe awareness of racial injustice in society, has been weaponized as a pejorative term by many in the conservative movement to describe diversity and inclusion policies in government and schools.

Brito rejected that critique.


"We are not a ‘woke’ Army," Brito said. "We’re an Army that represents all of America. We’re an Army that when called upon will fight our nation’s wars if necessary. We’re an Army that gives all these opportunities to young men and women from every state and every single territory."

More than 300 high school students attended the job fair at the San Diego Van Deman Reserve Center Wednesday, where soldiers from several Army specialties were on hand to talk about their jobs. Students were also able to sit inside different Army vehicles — including an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Marlea-Jade Moon, a ninth grader in the JROTC program at Morse High School, said the vehicles were the best part of the event.

"You can go inside them and see how it is," she said. "It's cool."

Moon and other high school students said they were considering military careers. Most, however, also said they were considering those careers after college.

Brito said the Army is on track to meet its recruiting goal for 2023.