Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Modern Combat Video Reviews Guest Authors The Man Cave
‘Moving Toward the Sounds of Chaos’
Lobo Jarhead Comments on the Morphology of Military Recruitment

I asked a marine veteran who contacted me by email to assess how recruitment efforts have changed since our youth and to give us his impressions, as I had just picked up a brochure, which no longer refers to the Corp as "The Few, The Proud, the Brave," but simply as "the Few."

This one from 2015 didn't age well.. "A nod to millenial values..."

USMC rolls out badass new recruiting commercial

Earlier this month the Marine Corps released its latest recruiting video, titled “Wall”

I always hated this one. It seems like the whole point of "moving toward the sounds of chaos" was to deliver the boxes of free cheese prominently displayed in two separate scenes from 0:35 - 0:39. And the biggest piece of "chaos" in the whole vid is the gagglefuck of an upright charge across several hundred meters of flat, open ground. Wouldn't a leapfrogging "fire team rush" with a careful eye out for IEDs be more realistic? (Yes.) But I guess if you're just hurrying to deliver care packages, there's no need to actually move like you're in the military, or something.

Marine Corps Commercial: Toward the Sounds of Chaos

Where chaos looms, the Few emerge. Marines move toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice and despair—with the courage and resolve to silence them. Marines face down ...

Now, this is the way it was done when I was a teenager, right in the middle of the last big shooting war the US has fought. The Corps is challenging young men—implying they're not good enough, and really focusing on membership in an elite mannerbund, rather than talking about going out and doing good in the world.

"Standards high and our ranks small."

Rose Garden (1970 US Marine Corps recruiting commercial)

Classic USMC recruitment commercial from 1970. "We don't promise you a rose garden, so if you just want to be one of the boys stick with the boys. The Marine...

In 2008, the DOD must have hired a new ad agency, because they went back to more of a male-challenge theme: "Find your destiny among the world's greatest warriors". When the ghost from WW2 reaches down and gives the young recruit a hand up on the last stretch...well, I musta got something in my eye.

Marine Corps "The Climb"

The journey to become a United States Marine is not easy. But its more than worth it!

Lets' take a look at how our BFF (UK) does it. Looks to me like they've completely given up on the idea of having a military, at all. ("Sod this for a game of soldiers.")

Watch people react to British Army's new recruitment adverts

Members of the public give their views on the latest British Army recruitment drive. The adverts have been made in a bid to appeal to potential soldiers from ...

And finally, how does our #1 peer competitor do it? Robustly. Very robustly:

Russian Military Recruitment Video Embraces Dark Side

“This is … the first day of your new life.” “Here pain makes you stronger, scars are a daily occurrence … without an enemy there is no battle, and without a ...

I have no idea what they're saying, but this video is kin to the "Rose Garden" one from 1970. Ivan is fighting to defend lissome Olga back home, he's building a body like an Olympic wrestler, and he's dialed in on the mission...and that mission ain't handing out freebies to the Skinnys.

Masculine Axis: A Meditation on Manhood and Heroism

Add Comment
PRFebruary 6, 2018 10:32 PM UTC

No one is accusing you of low motives, Devil Dog. We're all friends here.

In my NROTC unit, I got along with the Marine gunnery sargeant the best out of all the squids and Marine COrps' officer candidates. I think he liked me because I was so pig-headedly patriotic and I liked PT. Except for one, most of the Navy officer-instructors didn't like me because I wasn't gung-ho for pointless midshipman crap and I buckled down on my studies. I was in engineering school while everyone else was a liberal arts major. The other Marine Corps' officer candidates, for all their bluster, failed to join the infantry. All went to flight school.
Jeremy BenthamFebruary 6, 2018 2:44 PM UTC

“You can't handle the truth!”

-Jack Nicholson as Colonel Jessup, USMC, “A Few Good Men” (1992)

I take it back. It appears jarheads DO care about what I think. Imagine that. And I thought they were thicker skinned than that. Apparently some are not. And he calls a jingoistic myrmidon like me a ‘utilitarian/libertarian’ no less. Man I really must have pressed a psychological hot button somewhere, eh? You know, no matter what a person might want to believe in their heart is true, there still is such a thing as reality. You can deny and avoid reality all you want, but in the end you cannot escape the consequences of avoiding reality. There are certain realties about recruiting. Not everyone has the noblest causes and motivations foremost in their mind when they sign the enlistment form for any service. Rationalization is strong in human beings. The Oath is administered to remind them what it’s really all about and what their obligations are.

Devil Dog, don’t embarrass yourself by making or implying threats of physical violence over the Internet to someone you with whom you disagree. It’s completely anonymous and therefore cheap in the extreme. It doesn’t make you look tough or courageous or principled. It makes you look like an insecure fool. You'll have to get your tough guy card validated some other way.

Speaking of reality. FYI Devil Dog. The Germans did not dub the U.S. Marines ‘Devil Dogs’ (“Teufelhunden”) during WWI. The Marines made that up themselves. This fact was confirmed by no less than the Marine Historical Division and printed in Stars and Stripes.

“THE RUMOR DOCTOR’S DIAGNOSIS: Like the story of the fabled “Blood Stripe,” the legend surrounding the origin of the term “Devil Dogs” is not supported by the facts.”

As the article pointed out the word ‘teufelhunden’ itself is ungrammatical, it doesn’t exist at all in the German Language. It is precisely the kind of made up German word a speaker of American English would concoct. Like “Sheissgesichte”.

So as the man said, tradition is something that happens once in a row. Or “history is a set of lies mutually agreed upon” (Napoleon). Like I said before, the Army could learn a thing or two about self-promotion from the Marines. I mean that as a compliment, not as a criticism. Not that I believe that just making stuff up is a good and moral thing to do; however, it probably never would have occurred to anyone in the Army to come up with a catchy appellation like that, or else the chain of command would have spiked it as being too braggadocious.

So what’s it going to be Devil Dog? Are you going to embrace the truth or are you going to stick with the legend/lie?
Devil DogFebruary 6, 2018 9:19 AM UTC

Jeremy, the difference between the marine corp and the army isn't just about PR. The reason marines re-enlist at a lower rate than the other branches is because many aren't in it for a career. It isn't about money, but as a utilitarian/libertarian you wouldn't understand that. If you were to accuse me of low motives to my face, we would have to fight.(Thankfully we're on the internet. I didn't say I would win, just that I would have to fight).

Speaking of which, I once do a stint with the Filipino marines. Apparently, there exist a rivalry between the marines and the army in the Philippines that is more intense than the one in the US. One marine sergeant told me about getting in a fight with soldiers in a NCO club once. That night, the marines snuck into the army camp and threw a grenade in the soldiers' barracks!
Jeremy BenthamFebruary 5, 2018 2:18 PM UTC

So you disagree PR? Fine. But goodness gracious man, do you imagine the jarheads care a whit what an ex-squid thinks of them? Or a grunt like me? LOL!

The fact is the Marine Corps has for years had a very consistent and effective marketing plan. What are the Marines selling? Why lifetime membership in the tough guy club of course. They aren’t selling their recruits on job training or travel or money for college or even patriotism so much. They’re selling them on an image: complete Marine boot camp and you’re a tough guy. Even if you come to look like a soft doughy white guy like Drew Cary later in life (yeah, he was a Marine) you can still claim to be a tough guy by dint of your service in the Corps. On the downside the Marines have the lowest reenlistment rate of all the armed services. All that craziness gets old in a hurry, so most first termers are satisfied to get their tough guy club card validated and then split once their hitch is up. Of course the Corps is a small service as well as a putative meritocracy, an up or out system, like all the other services. So they don’t even want everyone who enlists for a hitch to stay in. What would the Armed Forces do if every Gomer Pyle or Forest Gump who joined decided they wanted to stay in for twenty years and collect a pension? Besides, as you alluded to, the services have to make room for all the affirmative action hires now.

I’m a proud and partisan Army guy, yet I do believe my service could learn a thing or two about self-promotion from the Marine Corps (the Navy Department too). Since at least the 1890’s the Marine Corps has been terrified of becoming absorbed into the Army. They’re afraid that the bean counters in Congress might someday decide that allowing the Navy to have its own private army (and the Navy’s army to have its own air force) is a needless and expensive duplication of effort. It’s the one thing that both Truman and MacArthur agreed upon. So naturally then the Marines long ago decided they needed to toot their own horn as often as possible to call the public’s attention to what a wonderful job they are doing for the country (and conversely how all the other services aren’t quite as good). We in the Army on the other hand are the ‘quiet professionals’, people who believe in the main it is ill-mannered to be boastful of one’s accomplishments. That is of course why the public is generally unaware of so much that the Army does. They don’t know the Army has more boats than the Navy, more aircraft than the Air Force and executed more amphibious landings during WWII than the Marine Corps.

James is spot on when he says the ads are “recruiting according to the current dominant sensibilities.” Whether you agree with those ‘dominant sensibilities’ or not. Whether you agree with Mark Twain or not that’s exactly what many Americans believe today. They believe the fortunate (America) should help the less fortunate (everyone else in the world). It’s why they regard God-Emperor Trump’s motto of ‘putting America first’ as racist and selfish. It is America’s duty to give back to the rest of the world since the only reason we are a wealthy country in the first place is we stole from everyone else. Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, himself said so. And he ought to know since he was the head gangster in charge of robbing and extorting everyone in the Caribbean and Central America and delivering the goods to the Wall Street Bankers. Now it’s time to give it all back. Who better to make amends for America’s past aggressions than the chief perpetrators themselves: the Marines? Let’s not forget the Navy’s role in all that ‘gunboat diplomacy’ either. Naturally once the country finally goes broke from giving money away and everyone starts going hungry, THEN Americans will be disabused of this foolishness.
PRFebruary 5, 2018 11:25 AM UTC

The idea of putting one's butt on the line to deliver aid packages to skinnies is effeminate. Let the skinnies feed themselves. That said, footage of the beach assault exercise at Camp Pendleton is appealing to boys seeking to become men. I think these boys will be disappointed by how bureaucratic and effeminate the Marine Corps' command structure has become, however. When I was in the Navy, I was surprised to discover the Navy core values were not, "Honor, Courage, and Commitment" but "Diversity is strength!" There were ethnic monopolies on certain MOSs and desperation to promote nonwhites if they somewhat met the requirements.

The old Marine Corps' videos were a little bit better but still dishonest. They showed Marine Corps' basic training at Camp Lejeune instead of the jungles of Vietnam where there buddies were getting shot dying for a dubious cause.

The SEALs recruiting motto is the best, "Be Someone Special," implying you're not until you're one of us.


I disagree with the Twain quote. People need to fight for their own freedom. Something easily won by others is easily forgotten. For example, our forefathers fought the British for our freedom or the Krauts and Japs and not us and we care very little for the Bill of Rights. Millennials don't even believe in free speech.

I likewise disagree that courage and charging at the enemy are the best tactics. Keeping people alive to achieve operational and strategic goals is the best thing to do.
Jeremy BenthamFebruary 5, 2018 4:20 AM UTC

James, regarding the “upright charge across several hundred meters of flat, open ground” depicted in ‘Moving Toward The Sounds Of Chaos’. First of all movie makers prefer to depict action in a way that is visually appealing rather than realistic. As you yourself have observed personal violence is seldom realistically depicted on film. So it is with warfare. Plus this film is an advertisement and all advertisements are designed to sell a product or an idea by appealing to emotion, never logic (Like if you use Old Spice men’s’ cologne, Ultra-Brite tooth paste and drive a Lexus, you’re sure to get laid). However in the case of ‘Moving toward the sound of chaos’ it was in fact an updated for the 21st Century but realistic reenactment of an actual U.S. Marine action: the invasion of the island of Peleliu in SEP-OCT 1944. On the second day the 5th Marine Regiment charged upright across the flat featureless terrain of the Japanese airfield for hundreds of yards while under heavy artillery, mortar and machine gun fire. This action is described by E.B. sledge in his book With the Old Breed. Sledge participated personally in the charge: “For me the attack resembled World War I movies I had seen of suicidal Allied infantry attacks through shell fire on the Western Front. I clenched my teeth, squeezed my carbine stock, and recited over and over to myself, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” Sledge went on to say, “Because of the superb discipline and excellent esprit of the Marines, it had never occurred to us that the attack might fail.” And it did not fail. So there you have the culture of the Marine Corps in a nutshell. The fact is it is common for assault troops like marines and paratroopers to cultivate a spirit and tradition of reckless courage. The U.S. Army Airborne promoted this sort of bravado for many years as well. Like the line in the ‘Ballad of the Green Berets’ goes: “Fighting soldiers from the sky, fearless men who jump and die!” As the story goes when the paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were briefed before their jump on the night prior to the D-Day landings, the chain of command warned them frankly to expect extremely heavy casualties. “Look at the man your left and on your right”, the paratroopers were told, “By the end of the day tomorrow one of them will not be there.” And every single paratrooper thought to himself “too bad about that other guy”. That’s the way you have to be to serve in a unit like that, you must be the eternal optimist. You have to believe you are blessed by the Great Spirit and possess powerful medicine that will protect you from harm. I suppose to look at most of us who have served you might wonder what makes us think we are such badasses? What can I say, we are white people with the self-esteem of black people. LOL! So yeah I do believe that the ‘Chaos’ recruiting commercial is connecting with its target audience better than you might imagine. The shot of the aid packages going in with the invasion force is clearly calculated to appeal to the globalist and humanitarian sentiments of many millennials. After all We're Americans, we're the good guys, we help people. Whether it's the Peace Corps or the Marine Corps delivering the aid. Right? Right! Actually there are many more liberals in the military than you might think. Even in the Marines.

“It is a worthy thing to fight for one’s freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man’s.” - Mark Twain
responds:February 5, 2018 4:31 PM UTC

As you note, Jeremy, It does seem that the advertising is really quite good in terms of recruiting according to the current dominant sensibilities.