The US Army has announced plans to field their own esports team in an attempt to bolster their ranks, further the Army's brand and address the growing disconnect with the society, as staff sergeant Ryan Meaux revealed in a Reddit AMA.
Apparently, the initiative stems from the US Army's intent to field two competitive outreach teams - an esports one and a fitness one. Both teams will be helping to "create awareness about the Army and the opportunities it provides."
Meaux pointed out that many soldiers have already expressed interest in representing the Army in competitive gaming. The teams will also take part in beta testing of the Army's apps and simulation software as well. This shouldn't really come as surprise considering the success of America's Army Online, a game that racked up 13 million registered users.
Competitive online gaming is listed as one of the duties of the Army's esports team, as well as travelling to competitive tournaments, all expenses covered of course. As far as games go, the entry form lists Fortnite, Call of Duty, Tekken, League of Legends, PUBG, Overwatch, FIFA, Madden and NBA 2K. Meaux said they're also considering Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
The move aims to "connect to young people and show them a side of Soldiers they may not expect", which the Army hopes will reflect on youth recruitment figures. Nevertheless, Meaux insists that esports and fitness team outreach teams are not recruiters but act as support roles to help paint the Army in a different light.
Note however that even though the US Army initiative mostly aims at the younger demographic, veterans are not excluded from taking part, quite the contrary. After all, I don't think I've ever met a soldier that hasn't got Call of Duty in his gaming arsenal - it's more a matter of which one they're playing.
The Army will apparently be holding tournaments for all the aforementioned games in December, so as to get the best of the best.
You can find sergeant Meaux's Reddit AMA thread over here.