US Marine Corps rolls out new TV ad to attract more women recruits amid scandal

US Marine Corps rolls out new TV ad to attract more women recruits amid scandal
With the Navy conducting a criminal investigation after the recent scandal involving the sharing of nude photos of female recruits online, the US Marine Corps (USMC) is hoping its recruitment ads will raise its profile among women.

“No one knows where it comes from, why some have it and some don’t,” the voice-over says in the Marines’ first female recruitment ad, released on Friday, as a young girl is shown walking down a school corridor and breaking up a fight.

The scene then switches to the girl scoring a try in a game of rugby game, as the voice-over continues: “it is the fighting spirit and it needs to be fed,” before the scene switches to a Marine in full combat gear moving through dark, frigid water, gripping an M-16 rifle, before plunging under barbed wire and through a submerged drain pipe. As the soldier shouts, it becomes clear that it is a woman.

“It consumes fear, self-doubt, and weakness. It stands ready to protect those in danger, and to fight, whatever shape the battle takes,” the voice-over adds, as the Marine is shown shooting on a battle field before delivering blankets to the needy.

“Because as long as there are battles, there will always be Marines,” the ad concludes.
The Marine Corps has the lowest percentage of women among the services at just 8.3 percent of the 183,000 total, and wants to boost that figure to 10 percent by 2019. Women have appeared in Marine recruitment ads before, but not as the central focus.
Marine Captain Erin Demchko, a deputy commander in Okinawa, Japan, is featured in the ad.

“The water was 27 degrees (-2.7C) and coated with a layer of thick ice,” Demchko said, describing the gauntlet, according to AP“Giving the film production staff what they wanted, while maintaining my bearing as a Marine officer and trying not to look cold, was a challenge.”

Demchko is part of the Marine Corps’ expanding effort to recruit women. The service is considered a male domain, and has struggled with the perception that it is the least welcoming of women among the military services. It even sought an exception against women serving in combat roles that was rejected by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter in late 2015.

The ad campaign comes as the USMC is battling a nude-photo sharing scandal. A criminal investigation is underway into the Marine United Facebook group, which had, at its peak, 30,000 members.

The inquiry is focusing on an estimated 500 members of the group who allegedly shared the images of or directed slurs – including rape and death threats – at some of the women.

Five Marines have received administrative punishments so far.

Twenty investigators with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are looking into 21 felony cases with sixteen suspects, nine active duty Marines, two Marine reservists, three Navy sailors, one Navy reservist and a civilian. Suspected crimes include extortion, stalking, threats, and theft of photos, according to AP. 

An additional 30 others have been referred to Marine commanders for possible administrative action.

Investigators have been reviewing close to 200 different websites and pulled more than 150,000 nude or semi-nude images, and identified 20,000 with a possible military connection. More than half are of men. Many of the images are selfies or photos that the subjects posed for and then voluntarily shared.