What do spilled ice cream, stranded pirates and cartoon airstrikes have in common? They are all part of a new animated video produced by the Department of Defense that is intended to explain what the US military does and how it is organized.
Featured as part of a revamped Pentagon website that was unveiled Tuesday, the video, which depicts animated pilots dropping bombs into an empty desert and US Marines confronting a pirate on a deserted island, was produced in house by a young service member to illustrate the function of different military branches, a defense official told CNN.
The Pentagon did not provide an estimate of how much the video cost to produce.
Set to a cheery soundtrack, the two-minute clip begins by explaining that war movies tend to “exaggerate what our military does, day in and day out.” It then shows a cartoon figure dropping a scoop of ice cream.
From that ice cream spawns a tree depicting the five branches of the military. The video goes on to explain the role of each service branch and how they help protect the US from “bad guys” around the world.
“Marines come from sea and air to fight adversaries on land and they are very, very good at it,” the narrator states, as cartoon service members appear to land on an isolated island in the middle of the ocean to sternly confront a character wearing a pirate hat and eye patch.
The video then explains that the military does not “fight bad guys alone,” showing a map of the world with pins intended to represent US allies and partners around the globe.
It concludes with a clip showing the various jobs available to those who serve in the US military, including opportunities to work as an air traffic controller, meteorologist or gourmet chef.
According to the Pentagon, the video is intended to serve as an entry point into the rest of the website, which “finally matches up with the way Americans view news and content online” by providing more visuals and interactive content.
“All year, the DOD’s #KnowYourMil campaign has been working to let the public know that our service members are no different from you,” the website states. “And while military jargon can be confusing to ‘civilians’ — also known as people with no military connection — the public can still be engaged without needing a translator to decipher that jargon.”
The Pentagon’s decision to revamp its digital presence comes as service branches have struggled to meet recruitment targets.
Low unemployment combined with a strong economy means the US Army is unlikely to meet its recruitment goal for the 2018 fiscal year, according to army officials.
The Navy — as well as the Marine Corps and Air Force — is facing a shortfall of fighter pilots, according to a report released last month by the Government Accountability Office.
“Service officials attributed these gaps to aircraft readiness challenges, reduced training opportunities, and increased attrition of fighter pilots due to career dissatisfaction,” the report said.