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Yahoo!, DoD Launch Military Career Contest

Presenters: Yvette C. Brown-Wahler, Commander, USN, Assistant Director for Recruiting Plans
May 18, 2000 1:30 PM EDT

Thursday, May 18, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. EDT

("Fantasy Career in Today's Military Contest." Also Participating: Patricia A. Tracey, Vice Admiral, USN, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy and Ms. Tanya Singer, Producer Yahoo! Careers.)

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. This is, as I announced on Tuesday, a somewhat unusual beginning to the briefing, but I think a very important and auspicious announcement that we're making today.

We have here Tanya Singer from Yahoo!, and we're announcing a program whereby Yahoo! is going to feature some military occupations among its "fantasy" jobs -- jobs that people dream about. And there will be a contest for people who would like to try being a Marine or a soldier, sailor, Coast Guardsman, airman, for several days, where they actually -- the winners will get to come and actually fly in helicopters and jump out of a plane with a member of the Golden Knights. We have a member of the Golden Knights here -- two members. We also have people from the Air Force to illustrate the fact that people would do the simulator and other work that would lead up to being a jet fighter pilot. The Navy winner would be on a carrier, and the Coast Guard winner would be training to be a search and rescue swimmer. And the Marine winner would do the most exciting thing possible, and that's go to Marine Corps Basic. (Laughter.)

So to announce this, we have Commander Yvette Brown-Wahler, who will lay out the program, and then we'll have Tanya Singer from Yahoo!. We have Vice Admiral Tracey here from Personnel and Readiness, and also Al Maldon, the assistant secretary for manpower force issues, to answer questions if we have big overarching policy issues.

Now, after this is over, if you'd like to see demonstrations, we have some across the hall. (To staff) I believe that's correct, isn't it? (Returning) And so you can go over there and see what people will actually see on the screens if they log-on to Yahoo!

I don't have to tell you that all the Armed Forces are working harder and harder, under the direction of Al Maldon and Vice Admiral Tracey, to find new and better ways to recruit. Clearly, the Internet is important to us, just as it is important to all employers today, and we're looking for ways to use that in the most efficient manner for reaching out to the general public, particularly younger people.

So with that, I'll turn it over to Commander Brown-Wahler.

Thank you.

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: Thank you, Mr. Bacon.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We are excited to be here today to announce a new advertising initiative to raise awareness about today's military by using the Internet as the medium.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Armed Forces Day, the Department of Defense in concert with Yahoo! is sponsoring the "Fantasy Careers in Today's Military" contest from Armed Forces Day, May 20th, through Independence Day, July 4th.

This contest is designed to expose the public to the military's role and to provide an opportunity for five individuals to experience "a day in the life" with the proud service members that stand behind me today. This is the experience of a lifetime that has never before been offered this way to the public.

This contest is about the public meeting military service members, getting to know who they are, and experience firsthand their maturity, dedication and professionalism. This is a way for ordinary people from "Main Street USA" to connect with extraordinary people doing exciting, thrilling, and challenging jobs while serving their country.

There are increasingly fewer Americans who have direct experience with today's military. Fewer people who know someone who has served or is serving in uniform. With fewer military connections to society and fewer adult influencers to discuss career options, generations of youth receive less exposure to military opportunities, benefits, careers and even its adventures.

We want adult influencers to understand how young people can grow and gain confidence in themselves through military experiences. It is the vitality of the individual soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman who experiences the challenges and teamwork within their chosen career fields every day. The public should be aware of the wide variety of skills our service members use in contributing to and the critical role they play in national defense. For this we are honoring America's best with this contest.

Each service is providing the winner with a unique opportunity in carrying out his or her fantasy. Have you ever thought about flying in the back of an F-15, faster than the speed of sound? Parachuting down to Earth from 10,000 feet? Flying over the treetops in an Apache helicopter at 200 miles per hour? Rapidly responding to a call for help, jumping from a helicopter to assist victims of the sea? Are you tough enough to thrive in a chaotic and uncertain environment, turning leadership instincts into action? Or land on an aircraft carrier, stopping in 2.5 seconds and only 320 feet, and then taking off from zero to 165 miles per hour in two seconds?

Americans need to experience first-hand to understand how service members carry out the military's important missions throughout the world. This is the public's opportunity to be face to face with the men and women who carry out these fantasies every day.


Ms. Singer: Thank you, Commander Brown-Wahler.

It's a pleasure to share this terrific contest with you today. And I'd like to start by telling you a little bit more about Yahoo! and our "Fantasy Careers" contest.

Yahoo! is a global Internet, communications, media and commerce company used by more than 145 million individuals every month. We reach more than 60 percent of all Internet users, and were the first online navigational guide to the web.

Yahoo! Careers is a leading career site, leveraging Yahoo's global branded platform. Yahoo! Careers brings together over 1 million open jobs from sites all over the web, as well as articles on topics from resume preparation to advice for new college graduates, and transitioning military service members.

Our Fantasy Careers contest launched last September, and has made dreams come true for more than five winners so far. Our winners have had a chance to stir up new flavors at Ben & Jerry's ice cream, test video games at Sega Electronics, and even launch trading on the NASDAQ.

We approached the Department of Defense to expand our site in supporting people considering careers in the military. From the beginning there was an obvious link between extraordinary jobs in the military and our own Fantasy Careers contest. As part of our relationship, we've not only rounded out our military careers area by offering Department of Defense content and links for people considering military careers, but we've opened the doors for the first time to some very exciting military dream jobs.

So if you've ever dreamed of parachuting with the Army's Golden Knights, steering a 90,000 ton aircraft carrier, or co-navigating the skies as an F-15 fighter pilot, this is your chance. Starting today, through July 4th, the general public will get a first-ever opportunity to try these dream jobs on for size. We're thrilled also because in our job of connecting people with employers, we're pleased to be working with the largest employer in the United States, and that's the Department of Defense, through the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

U.S. residents, 18 and over, who want to participate simply need to go to careers.yahoo.com, click on our "Fantasy Careers" link, and register for a free Yahoo! ID, complete a resume and essay, and they're on their way. They can enter one or all five contests. Prizes will include round-trip air fare, accommodations, meals, ground transportation, and up to a five-day long emergent experience in today's military. Entries will be judged by each branch of the armed forces, and there will be one winner selected per service.

The contest will be promoted prominently on the Yahoo! Career site and by Yahoo! with over a million dollars of advertising throughout the Yahoo! network of sites.

The contest will bring people from cubical to cockpit, putting them in contact with jobs they've never had access to before.

I encourage each of you to research the jobs and even after this, in the conference room, through the explanations and videos on careers.yahoo.com, and enter for your chance to win.

Thank you.

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: The Air Force is offering the fantasy experience to be an F-15 pilot at Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia, for two days. Their special events include: shadowing an F-15 fighter pilot, flying in the back seat of an F-15, meet the F-15 maintenance team, train in aircraft armament. And their essay question is, "Why do you want to be an F-15 pilot?"

To talk about this experience is Major James Richter, an F-15 pilot, with Technical Sergeant Glenn Thompson, a jet engine mechanic.

Maj. Richter: Thank you, ma'am.

Major Richter, formerly of -- recently of the 44th Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan. I'm originally from Winona, Minnesota.

And as a pilot of the world's greatest air superiority fighter, I can tell you that there is a -- the fighter pilot career and role is one of the most physically demanding, mentally challenging fields in the Air Force.

Along with that, to train to get here takes several years, and once you are there, it is never-ending, continues on as you operate at level of the way and on through command.

We look forward, myself and fellow aviators and maintainers at Langley Air Force Base, to host the contestant winner in a day in the life of fighter operations and, in particular, the high-speed, high-G, very dynamic, very fluid environment of air-to-air employment, particularly in the F-15.

Thank you.

Tech. Sgt. Thompson: Good afternoon. I'm Tech Sergeant Glenn Thompson from the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard, out of Andrews.

As a jet engine mechanic, the greatest responsibility that I enjoy is working on the motors and following them all the way from complete tear-downs to seeing them go into the aircraft. And there's nothing more satisfying than to watch an F-16 just zip across the sky, knowing that they're defending our country day and night.

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: Thank you.

The Army is offering the fantasy experience to be an Apache helicopter pilot at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and as a paratrooper at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for five days. Their special events include: train in a flight simulator, train in -- fly in an Apache helicopter, simulate free falling, and experience a tandem parachute jump with the world champion Army Golden Knights parachute team.

Their essay question is "Why do you want to experience helicopter flight and paratrooper training?" To talk about this experience is Specialist Shawn Broe from the 82nd Airborne Division, with Chief Warrant Officer Second Alan Kidwell from the 8th Battalion the 229th Aviation Regiment.

Chief Warrant Officer Kidwell: Thank you, ma'am.

I'm Chief Warrant Officer 2 Alan Kidwell from 8th Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment. I fly the Army's premier attack helicopter, the AH-64 Apache. When we fly, we wear our flight helmets, the IHADS -- Integrated Helmet And Display Sight system -- for the AH-64, the survival vest and our flight suit. I joined the Army in 1987, originally from Los Angeles, California, and would be proud to meet the winner of the Army Yahoo! contest and fly them in an AH-64 Apache.

Spc. Shawn Broe: Hi. I'm Specialist Shawn Broe from America's Guard of Honor, the 82nd Airborne Division. I'm a team leader, and I've served in the Army since June 2nd, 1997. I'm originally from Williston, North Dakota. This is what we wear when we jump: a parachutist ballistic helmet, T-10 Charlie main parachute, our reserve parachute, rucksack, and our weapon inside our M-1950 weapons case. And I, too, am very excited to meet the Army Yahoo! contest winner to show that contest winner what Army paratroopers do all day, all night, all the way, Airborne! HOOOOAH! (Laughter.)

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: The Coast Guard is offering the fantasy experience of search and rescue with the world's experts at Houston, Texas for three to four days. Their special events include rescue swimmer training, training aboard a Coast Guard rescue boat, helicopter pilot orientation. And their essay question is Why do you want to be a Coast Guard search and rescue team member? To talk about this experience is Master Chief Keith Jensen, a rescue swimmer.

Master Chief Jensen: Thank you, ma'am. Good afternoon --

Mr. Bacon: Could you move up to the microphone? It would be better if we all stood --

Master Chief Jensen: Good afternoon, hello. I'm Master Chief Keith Jensen. I'm one of 300 operational helicopter rescue swimmers in the Coast Guard scattered to 24 air stations around the United States from Alaska to Puerto Rico. We are the experts in search and rescue, surface rescue, high seas, which equates to hurricanes, snow storms, wet rock, surf, cave rescues, vertical insertion, taking people off of cliffs and such.

We look forward, the United States Coast Guard, look forward to taking out the contest winner to experience training for search and rescue in our aircraft and helicopter operations and flying with one of our pilots in our HH-65 Dolphins.

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: Thank you.

The Marine Corps is offering a fantasy experience to be a Marine at the basic school at Quantico, Virginia, for four days. Their special events include becoming part of an elite force, leadership skills from the best, touring a top military training facility. And their essay question is, "Why do you want to be a smart, tough, elite warrior at the basic school?" (Laughter.)

To talk about this experience is Second Lieutenant William Pelletier from the basic school.

2nd. Lt. Pelletier: Thank you, ma'am.

Good afternoon. I'm Marine Corps Second Lieutenant Bill Pelletier. Eight years ago, I joined the world's finest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps, because I was looking for a challenge. And I definitely found it. For 225 years, Marines have been making Marines and winning battles. And one of the main reasons we've been able to win all those battles is because of the leadership that has been exhibited by the Marine Corps officers.

One lucky individual is going to get a chance to see how that leadership works, up close and very personal, by going to the Marine Basic Officer Course for a week. In addition to the leadership and the tactical experiences they'll gain, they'll also get a lot of the intangible rewards, the physical and mental challenges and rewards that come with doing the ultimate fantasy career of a lifetime, and that's being a United States Marine.

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: Thank you.

The Navy's offering the fantasy experience to land and serve aboard an aircraft carrier in either the Pacific or the Atlantic Fleet for two to four days. Their special events include ride a C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery aircraft to the carrier, joining flight operations, steering the ship, and observing operations in the Combat Direction Center.

Their essay question is, "Why do you want to experience a day in the life of an aircraft carrier?"

To talk about this experience is Lieutenant Commander Chris Gallagher, a naval flight officer, with Parachute Rigger First Class Anthony Lotierzo, a flight engineer; and Aviation Ordnanceman Second Class Richard Lokun, a load master.

Lt. Cmdr. Gallagher: Thank you, ma'am.

Good afternoon. I am Lieutenant Commander Chris Gallagher. I am a former catapult and arresting gear officer from the USS Constellation.

We are looking forward to welcoming the contest winner aboard an aircraft carrier and get them up close and personal with the sights, the smells and the challenges of carrier aviation. They will be able to experience what it's like to get close to the jets, get close to the smell, and see how men and women in the Navy work together to get the leadership challenge that's placed upon the Navy and make it happen. They will be able to steer 90,000 tons of carrier, and it will be a real adventure. We are looking forward to having them.

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: Again, it is the vitality of the individual soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman who experiences the challenges and the teamwork within their chosen fields every day. The public should be aware of this wide variety of skills our service members use in contributing to and the critical role they play in national defense. Again for this, we are offering this contest, for you to spend a day in the life with America's best.

Thank you.

Mr. Bacon: You might ask if there are any questions.

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: Are there any questions?


Q: Are there any limitations, like age or nationality -- (laughter) -- that sort of thing for --

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: You must be at least 18 years old -- there is no upper-age limit -- and you must be U.S. resident, right now. And you must pass some of the physical requirements or medical exams that some of the services are requiring before you actually conduct one of the events or activities.

Q: The four days in Basic Training -- Quantico.

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: (Laughs.) Sir?

Q: Can someone describe a little more fully what you're going to have the person do in those four days? (Laughter.)

Cmdr. Brown-Wahler: Well, what we expect you to do -- well, you have the opportunity of getting a haircut the first day. (Laughter.) You'll be eating, drinking, swimming, living the Marine Corps experience. You'll be crawling in the grass. You'll be running the obstacle course. You'll be firing their weapons. Anything that the basic school has set up for that week, you will actually be experiencing.

And we have to make sure that on Friday we check you out, just in case you are loving it too much. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)


Q: I'd like to ask a question to Admiral Tracey, if I might? Admiral, how did this promotion come to pass? How did it get started? Who created this?

Vice Adm. Tracey: Yahoo! came to us actually, with respect to their jobs site and an idea of incorporating some of the information on the variety of jobs that we have available every year. We recruit about 350,000 people every year. We have a huge number of vacancies.

And they came to us with that as the initial entree and talked to us about a contest that they had run with some other prospective employers.

We are seeking different ways of exposing the American people to who we are as a military and, in particular, exposing them to who the people are who are in today's military, and this seemed like an unusual way to do that that really begins to introduce us a little bit better to how to use a medium like the Internet for our purposes.

Q: And what are the current shortfalls in recruiting manpower needs for the armed services?

Vice Adm. Tracey: We're doing better this year than we did last. We've just finished up statistics for the month of April, and we had been in all four services -- I'm sorry, in three of the four services we've been on track up through the month of March. Army had a particularly difficult month in April, so we're a little behind in Army. And Air Force has been struggling all of this fiscal year, although all four services are better this year than they were last. Many of the initiatives, as you know, with respect to recruiting dollars, recruiters in the field, advertising dollars, and innovative approaches to recruiting appear to be beginning to pay off. But we don't anticipate that it will be easy for a very long time.

Q: And those people represented today, those particular parts of various services, is that where the need is? Has this program been specifically targeted on those needs?

Vice Adm. Tracey: No, sir. They represent what we thought would be things that people were interested in, might not actually understand about military careers.

Q: Do you have the numbers for April?

Vice Adm. Tracey: I don't have them with me, but we can get them.

Mr. Bacon: (Off mike.)

Vice Adm. Tracey: Mr. Bacon always has everything.


Mr. Bacon: I'll have to get that too. We can provide that for you afterwards. (Laughter.)

Vice Adm. Tracey: But I can give you -- Army through the month of April is at 58 percent.

Mr. Bacon: No, that was for the month of April. It's 94 percent.

Vice Adm. Tracey: For the month of April. I'm sorry. Ninety-four percent through the fiscal year; 58 percent for April. Thank you. Navy is at 100 percent for the fiscal year; 101 percent for the month of April. Marines are at 101 percent for the fiscal year; 102 percent for April. Air Force is at 83 percent for the fiscal year; 80 percent for the month of April.

And you should know, I think, that March, April -- February, March, April, May are the most difficult months out of the fiscal year.

Q: Does the military currently do any recruiting through the Internet?

Vice Adm. Tracey: Yes, we do. We have about $300,000 worth of advertising already on the Internet. And one of the services has been working on prototyping an online recruiting capability that we hope to have at least in prototype by the end of the calendar year for one service, with the expectation of expanding that for all four services.

Q: Which service is it?

Vice Adm. Tracey: Navy.

Q: Do you have any idea of how many people have been recruited as a result of that --

Vice Adm. Tracey: We don't have those numbers, but we do know that leads that are generated over the Internet tend to have a much higher turn rate than leads that are generated by other media right now. So it is a high payoff medium for us.

Q: What does Yahoo! get out of this at the end? Is DoD looking at upping its advertising on Yahoo! sites or --

Vice Adm. Tracey: We are paying for some advertising in connection with this contest. We're spending about $250,000 in advertising in connection with this particular contest. And I'm sure that between us, we hope to know better how to use Yahoo! and other types of search engines as a means of drawing people to military information.

Mr. Bacon: Thank you very much.

Q: Thank you.

Mr. Bacon: Thank you all for coming. It was great.

"This transcript was prepared by the Federal News Service, Inc., Washington DC. Federal News Service is a private company. For other defense related transcripts not available through this site, contact Federal News Service at (202) 347-1400."

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