(Defense Department)

Revamped Defense Dept. Website Reimagines Recruitment for the Future

Regular visitors to defense.gov may be forgiven for thinking they have come to the wrong web page. Gone is the fusty, somewhat preclusive old site, making way for an eye-catching layout with dynamic new content. This is America’s new military.

One of the key priorities Defense Secretary James Mattis spelled out in the National Defense Strategy is reform. The new defense.gov is a perfect example of reform, and of how the DoD is making itself more accessible to the public.

One of the key changes to the website is accessibility, both in the practical sense and in terms of inclusivity. While the new content still appeals to military personnel, the site has taken great strides to improve public engagement.

Defense.gov is far more interactive than it has ever been, and now includes video, imagery and clickable content, matching up with the way Americans view information online. All of this is also mobile-friendly.

Animation on Defense.gov

Throughout the year, the DOD’s #KnowYourMil campaign has been working to let the public know that its service members are no different from other members of the public. The new site makes it a lot easier for the public to be tuned into what’s going on in the DoD without using military jargon.

Visitors to the new site can find out how to tour a military base or learn about the unique relationship between the Defense Department and Disney. They can even test their knowledge of military ships with a quiz. All this is built on the backbone of informational articles and videos to increase the public’s understanding of the military. The new “Meet the Team” section provides insight into our military leaders and all the regular news releases and briefings to be expected from a Cabinet-level website can be found in the Newsroom.

“We are changing the way we tell our story to appeal to a new generation; it had to be more compelling and more appropriate for this century,” Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Kim Joiner told HSToday. “For example, we showed an animation to a focus group of 16- to 24-year-olds and this was really popular, as were the quizzes, and all of this is really informative.”

Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Kim Joiner (DoD photo)

Part of the DoD’s drive to better engage the public is to increase the number of recruits. Many younger people today have an out-of-date view of America’s military and are not aware of the opportunities it can provide. Some join the military to be engaged in active combat, but there are many ways to support your country and protect the American people; in fact, only five percent of recruits see active combat.

One of the areas in which the military can really shine in the eyes of new graduates is in cybersecurity. After all, most tech is developed by the military first. Only later does it enter into commercial use. Developing new tech for DARPA has to beat working on a new kid’s toy, right?

“If you come out of the military after four years working in a cyber discipline, you won’t be behind your peers, you’ll be ahead of them,” Joiner said.

Data from the Office of Personnel Management shows the Defense Department has about 6.6 IT professionals over the age of 60 for every one under the age of 30.

Given the variety and complexity of cyber work in the DoD, not to mention the gravitas, it is perhaps surprising that the department is struggling to recruit millennials. The reimagining of the website and its wider work with #KnowYourMil is intended to help close the gap. DOD is no longer your grandpa’s military and Uncle Sam needs your tech skills, your insight and your creativity, not just your boots on the ground.

Quizzes on Defense.gov
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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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