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10 September 2008

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Duncan Kinder

This sort of thing is rather like the selling of indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church in the decades before the Reformation.

William R. Cumming

Actually, as PL and I know well, the phrase "Don't Mean Nothing" usually applied to the death of a very close or the most close buddy in combat and really meant "Means Everything."
Accountablility has been lost now even in the military and the marketers that have helped destroy the country's finances are now turning their big guns on the military. No shred of dignity and self-respect will be left when they are finished.

lina

This is a good segue from your previous discussion about marketing and branding. Without conscription, the U.S. military has become a professional war enterprise. Lately it has been having recruiting problems and cash flow difficulties, so something's got to be done. Selling off a few insignia or a trademark here and there is simply the next indicated thing. Maybe basic training could be outsourced and sold as kind of fitness holiday. The possibilities are endless.

Andy

Wow, I'm sitting here in utter amazement. Even if the Army budget could be doubled through such a scheme, it would not be worth it. There can only be a pittance in such a licensing scheme. Maybe this is about recruiting? Whatever the reason, whoring the First Division's history and honor is completely shameful.

11B40

Reading further in the Politico article, it appears that (a) the Army's interested in using this program as a subtle recruiting tool (probably coincident with the decline of the Hummer) and (b) the licensee has rights to more insignia than the Big Red One.

I wonder if subsequent line extenders will be tailored for regional tastes, e.g., "Hawaii's (and my) Own" 25th ID might have its Tropic Lightning patch spread across merchandise for the Islands and the West Coast.

Or perhaps they'll segment by lifestyle and try to persuade horse lovers to sport the 1st Air Cavalry ensemble.

Whatever, all those folks who want to "play army" without coming closer to a battlefield than perhaps a tour of Gettysburg can live out their fantasies. And GIs, as they always have, will continue to soldier on through the real burdens.

Sadly, the governing elite also will continue to sell off pieces of our national soul. Having done so with our international prestige and domestic finances, apparently our historic, cultural symbols are all that remain for them to debase. I've no doubt that they'll be quite thorough.

Nevadan

This is a horrid example of the advertising belief that everything can be marketed and that nothing is sacred; money is the focus.

While it may be a tool to get young people to enlist, it says much as to the moral depths we have fallen.

jonst

I wanted to make some would be funny, jaded quip about how 'they' just keep providing us with perfect metaphors for what we have become.

But I don't have anything really to offer other than this is despicable. And it is a very ominous sign of the depth we are sinking to.

CP

10 U.S.C. § 771

“Except as otherwise provided by law, no person except a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps ... may wear:
(1) the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps; or
(2) a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps”
(NOTE: Violations may be prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § § 702 and 704.)

BillD

My gosh. This is truly mind boggling. My father-in-law must be spinning in his grave. He joined the 1stID, 26th Infantry, at Plattsburg Barracks in 1930. He was with the Division, and was a "Blue Spader", until 1948 when he accepted a warrant.

11B40 may be right about what else might be in our future.

abraham

Col. Lang, this is totally off the topic but I wanted to get your opinion of this. You may have already addressed this in the past.

What do you make of the recent threats by Israel to neutralize Russia's S-300 defense system if it goes ahead and sells one to Iran?

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1220802297507&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

Also, can you tell us what you know about S-300 capabilities and how it stacks up against Israel's (i.e. US) offensive weapons?

Perhaps you can handle this in a blog posting, or feel free to ignore me.

Thanks.

Dick

After giving it a long thought, I don't see a problem with it. If I see young people (they will no doubt mostly be young) wearing street clothes with my old insignias on them - the red diamond (5th Mech) or the AA (82nd) - I'll just wonder in passing if they know the significance of them. Their possible ignorance isn't their fault. Just so long as the Army gets a nice cut from the program and perhaps puts the money towards VA or other programs that directly benefit those who served, or are serving. We've seen military surplus clothing (and hand-me-downs from old soldiers) being worn for years now, and much with various patches left on. Hopefully the licensed insignias will all be applied in good taste. Just my opinion.

alnval

Col. Lang:

There ain’t no more glue in the system. Everything is for sale. Trumpeting the importance of values only to sell them off to the highest bidder now sounds a little bit like a marketing strategy, doesn’t it?

Put a fork in us. We’re done.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

Once again, you hit the nail with a two-by-four.

There have been many changes in the Army I was in for 2 years and 9 months almost 4 decades ago. All because rather than facing the fact the Vietnam was a war that could never be won, the conservatives ideologues were convinced they were stabbed in the back by liberals, Jane Fonda and Walter Cronkite. To conservatives, the collapse of the Army in the 70's was due to hippie draftees rather than facing the fact that it was a soldier's revolt against dying in an unwinnable war.

Military traditions are a way a society and people pass on the lessons from the past and build unit cohesion. But, with the ending of the draft, the Army has only two tools left to draw in bodies; marketing and religious ideology. Fighting two wars without the draft or raising taxes to pay for them has forced America into many varied weird contortions from a 500 billion dollar 2008 federal deficit, to selecting a evangelistic Christian woman vice-president candidate, to the most strange, changing the name of my old Airborne Company from Charlie to Chosen.

Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA

Thank you for this, my Army friends. It's only a matter of time before my Air Force will follow.

I understand we're currently referred to as the "Raptor Nation", so merchandising seems a natural progession in the quest to fund programs.

This is effin' obscene, sorry.

anna missed

This is following the Harley Davidson business model of selling the logo to keep the business alive. Can ubiquitous made in China Big Red One underwear and cheap beer be far behind?

Jose

My old division has become a marketing "brand", sad indictment of every xsshxle wearing one or more stars.

What's left after this?

Cold War Zoomie

Speechless.

Maybe we should have the USAF sponsor a new Redskins stadium - welcome to the "Death From Above" sports complex!

The past few years are burning me out. The presidential campaign is an accelerant. This optimist by nature feels like calling it quits.

Maybe I should latch onto some fat DoD contract and head back to the UK where the scariest thing they had when I lived there last time was Mr. Blobby.

Maybe it's changed back there too, but I doubt it has sunk as low as it has here. When I left in 1996 there was still a sense that some things aren't for sale. That some rights don't have to be written down in a constitution to be respected.

Ugh.

fasteddiez

Would Gen. Casey, as CSA, have had to sign off on this?

Dan M

What's next? The selling of division naming rights like baseball stadiums? Very sad.

Michael Keyes

Does the DOD have the right to license out the First Division logo? When did they copyright or patent the Big Red One?

While I think that it is bad taste/abhorrent/crappy that the All American Apparel Inc. company uses this symbol in such a crude way, I wonder why they had to license it in the first place. (And why not use the All American Division symbol unless it was not "sexy" enough?)

It is interesting to note that the comments on Politico seem to transcend party affiliation. Actual veterans seem to be against the move while others are for it unless they have a relative who fought in a war. I am strongly on the side of not commercializing the Armed Forces in this bald a manner. This is not a tee shirt sold to the young brother of a paratrooper, it is a nationally advertised sales campaign that spends millions to make millions. Pure profit only and the money that DOD gets doesn't even seem to be used for anything other than more advertising.

TomB

As someone who has never served I'd fully agree that the sentiments of those who have ought to control, absolutely. But given that same haven't been solicited and that we thus don't know that answer, aren't there at least a few non-ignoble things to be said for the idea?

I.e., what's wrong with civilians being so admiring of our armed forces that they want to wear its insignia? Is this really something we'd like our armed forces to *discourage*?

After all we had a time when kids were wearing the North Vietnamese flag colors, and Che stuff is still hot, thankfully albeit in a campy sort of way now. And isn't stuff like this likely to make young kids at least a little more aware of our armed forces, and maybe a little more aware of the history and meaning of such insignia and all of what's behind them?

Is that bad?

And after all licensing it is one way to make sure the image is kept correctly portrayed, and I've little doubt but that the licensing agreement probably gives the Army the right to ixnay any disrespectful use of it, or that there are some other such similar such provisions in the agreement and etc.

It's no news of course that the services have a hard time attracting the really top-flight kids these days; maybe some of that or maybe even a good deal of that is due to the lack of understanding that it's a helluva proud place to be. So why should the services need to hide that pride under a lampshade? At some point such hiding is going to be taken for a lack of pride even.

Think about some serviceman or woman home on leave or after serving, walking through a mall seeing a shirt with that insignia on it. Seems to me he or she might get a kick out of just thinking that "hey, I wore that for real," or saying that, or if they are in their uniform, feeling that.

Again, never having served I don't know, and maybe it is a dishonorable thing. But that someone thinks the public would like it doesn't strike me as a terrible thing. And keeping the image of the services as places where people go only when they've got no other options, and otherwise as humour-less, colorless, fuddy-duddy, undifferentiated blob-like institutions that don't recognize individual or group merit (which of course is exactly what such an insignia does) doesn't seem to me to do much for the people who have served either.

Cheers,


Walrus

I haven't read all the posts here. I'm shocked and horrified for two reasons.

Firstly, do you know what happens to the used apparel that you recycle?

A large part of it is sorted, baled, and exported to Third World Countries where individual items are sold for a few cents. That's why you see those "cute" photos of little kids wearing old designer Tee shirts.

Not so cute is the thought of a Somali Jihadist wearing The Big Red One.

Secondly, this total and complete lack of empathy is conclusive proof that the narcissists have polluted the Military, just like they have big business. "Character" is obviously of no importance when selecting senior officers any more.

The thought of people being able to purchase the right to wear any military insignia is anathema to anyone who has had to earn it the hard way.

Paul

Licensing of sacred military symbols results when whores are running the government and the military. Where the hell are the joint chiefs?

Eventually, the Big Red One patch will be featured on Victoria Secrets' crotchless panties.

Grumpy

Col., Have they changed the rules in math recently? It is my understanding, the same rule applies to grammar. Double negatives equals positives.

As I read this post, I kept thinking about the fact, this Nation is trying to build a new Military. I did not serve with the "Big Red One", but there was a well deserved respect for it, AT ONE TIME. They worked and fought hard for the distinction of that patch. It was special. I wonder, does this come under "The Stolen Valor Act?" How should we deal with the "genius" (sic) of ALL of those people involved in the making of this decision?

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their Nation." -George Washington 1789

V/R
Grumpy

Larry Mitchell

"Ok, I've got you down for a Big Red One, a Tropic Lightning, 1st Cav and 2 Screaming Eagles. Would you like CIBs with those?"

I can't help but think this is yet another angle for letting the citizens be patriots without serving in exchange for their support at the polls. The heavy lifting is for another class of people, but there's no reason why everyone else can't have a taste.

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