The Army’s Next Recruiting Tool Amid a Crisis? It could be the metaverse.

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Attendees try out the Caliverse Hyper-Realistic Metaverse experience at the Lotte booth at CES 2023 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 5, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada

ST. LOUIS — The U.S. Army must use online tactics and virtual worlds to attract younger generations and retain them as soldiers, said the deputy commanding general of the Training and Doctrine Command, as the service is expected to once again fall short of its recruiting goals.

Lieutenant General Maria Gervais told the participants about this on May 21 the GEOINT symposium in St. Louis that the Army, the largest branch of the military, “needs to use immersive environments to raise awareness of the numerous opportunities available in military service,” particularly in a recruiting environment that “is the most difficult that has ever existed since its inception”. the all-volunteer force 50 years ago.”

The service missed its FY2022 recruiting target by approximately 15,000 new Soldiers and was therefore understaffed. A further deficit is expected for 2023.

Among the most promising new technologies that could help reverse the trend is Gervais the metaverse: a heady subject that means something different to everyone, but ultimately boils down to the marriage of portable peripherals with immersive digital spaces, social interaction from anywhere and an online presence unfamiliar to the elderly.

“We are already doing some things, but our range is extremely limited. And we need to improve the connection with our younger generations,” said Gervais. “The Metaverse could be a way to expand our reach, increase our brand awareness through ad placement, and create an experience that could engage interest and increase awareness of military service among our youth.”

Searches for “Metaverse” peaked in late 2021 and early 2022. according to Google Trendsand has since declined.

According to Gervais, who previously led the cross-functional synthetic training environment team tasked with improving the latest high-precision military mapping and simulations, a virtual experience could more easily attract Gen Z and its successor, Gen Alpha. Earlier this year, the Army renewed its contract with geospatial services specialist Maxar Technologies to work on One World Terrain, a key part of the synthetic training environment.

While previous generations have been appealed to with ads in print media and television – such as the revived “Be all you can be” campaign – and through public relations, the youngest cohorts need new finesse, Gervais said. The service’s own first-person shooter video game, America’s Armywas closed in 2022 after more than a decade of operation. Described by some as propaganda, the series showed players the ins and outs of combat and soldier’s life.

“To recruit the next generation of soldiers and leaders, the army needs to invest in modernizing the way it works,” Gervais said. “They interact differently and want to be engaged differently. And we need to move from our industrial age enrollment processes and policies to a digitally informed enrollment and training process.”

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously reported for a South Carolina newspaper on the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration – specifically the Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development. Colin is also an award winning photographer.

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