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Focus groups question sailors on 'global force' slogan

Jul. 3, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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About 165 sailors and officers in Norfolk, Va., and San Diego sat down in June in part to discuss their thoughts on the Navy’s recruiting slogan: “America’s Navy: A global force for good.”

“Have you heard of the slogan?” they were asked. “What do you think of it, and does it reflect what the Navy does?”

It’s the latest scrutiny for a slogan praised for its recruiting strength but often criticized within the service for its lack of war-fighting spirit.

Results of the focus groups are still probably a month away, so it’s unclear how sailors reacted to the discussion. The slogan was just one part of the one-hour sessions; sailors also were asked why they joined, what expectations they had about service and whether those expectations were met.

The Gallup focus groups were paid for by an existing contract, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy’s chief of information. The polling company had been used in the past for community outreach feedback during fleet weeks. With those canceled this year after budget cuts triggered by sequestration, Kirby wanted to still make use of the $1.85 million contract that expires this year and of which Gallup is only a fraction.

“It was a rare opportunity and one we thought would be foolish not to take advantage of and gain insight from sailors about what service in the Navy means to them,” he said.

Participants were separated into small groups: E-2s through E-4s, E-5s and E-6s, E-7s and E-8s, O-1s through O-3s, O-4s and O-5s, O-6s and two groups of veterans.

One of the participants was Ensign Zach Keating, a 25-year-old public affairs officer at the naval public affairs support element at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

He said that the idea of a slogan, or a Navy “brand,” was one of the major discussion points in his group.

“When you say ‘The few, the proud,’ pretty much everyone in America knows the next line,” Keating said, referencing the Marine Corps’ long-serving recruiting motto. “The Navy has changed [its recruiting slogan] so much in the last 10 years.”

Keating said the Navy should capitalize on the idea that young men and women have the chance to do jobs they would never be able to do anywhere else, and that the service will transform them.

“It turns you into a person that a lot of these guys probably never thought they could be,” he said.

Kirby said he wanted discussion about the global force slogan because, while he knows it’s for recruiting new sailors, he “wanted to better understand how that resonated inside the lifelines.”

Though it’s sometimes confused for an official motto, “A global force for good” was created solely for Navy Recruiting Command. The service doesn’t have a motto.

Recruiting Command is “constantly evaluating” if its message resonates with the target audience, said spokeswoman Cmdr. Wendy Snyder. The latest results of the New Recruit Survey, conducted quarterly, showed that 88 percent of recruits identify with the “global force” slogan.

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