Katherine Kuzminski, who studies military personnel issues at the Center for New American Security, said that the Marine Corps’ tough and coyly negging message — broadcast through commercials, posters, and the terse words of hard-bodied Marines — has changed little in 50 years.
“The message they sell is, ‘You should be so lucky to be one of us,’” she said. “The Marine commercials market this vision of a disciplined corps who sleep on the ground, eat dirt and fight dragons. For certain people, that has had a lasting appeal.”
To be sure, the Marine Corps does not have to fill nearly as many boots as the Army does. And it outsources many of its noncombat jobs to the Navy, so comparing the different branches is difficult. Still, Ms. Kuzminski said, the mystique the Marine Corps has managed to build around itself has young people reliably lining up to join.
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