WASHINGTON -- Starting early next year, officers looking for a new calling may discover one as marketers. Last week, the Army's latest functional area began selecting eligible Soldiers and the application process will run through Jan. 19.

"The creation of FA 58 [Army marketing] allows the service to acquire, develop, employ, and retain the marketing talent needed to deliver a cutting-edge marketing capability commensurate with one of the nation's largest brands -- the U.S. Army," said Dr. E. Casey Wardynski, assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Eligible officers are required to have prior experience in a basic branch, along with marketing knowledge and experience. The Army plans to select 100 officers for FA 58 in the next five to six years, said Maj. Aaron Stark, FA 58 program manager.

Positions are available for officers from captain to colonel with the requisite skills and/or educational background, regardless of basic branch or current functional area.

Soldiers must exhibit a history of excellence during their initial service years, Stark said, and have either private-sector experience in marketing or an MBA or marketing-related graduate degree from a top-tier program that demonstrates a similar academic foundation.

"[The requirements] help officers turn strategic concepts into effective messaging that communicates the Army brand and the value proposition of Army service," he said.

Once selected, officers will learn the marketing trade with military and industry partners.
Marketing officers will then go on to serve in leadership positions on projects at Army Enterprise Marketing, in Chicago, Illinois, or in support of various accessions-related commands.

In addition to being a first-rate officer, Stark said, interested candidates must also demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of Army operations and the value proposition of Army service. This includes -- but not limited to -- understanding the benefits, hardships, realities, and unique experiences that are rooted in being a Soldier, he said.

Ideal marketing officers "imagine solutions beyond unconventional ways of thinking," he said, and must be visually creative, unafraid to be imaginative, and not be bound by templates or tradition.

Young marketing officers -- selected as a senior captain to junior major -- will generally start at the Army's marketing headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. It's there they will work as an apprentice on a marketing engagement team and learn the ropes, according to a news release.

After that, various options are available. Officers may move to a regional office supporting the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, U.S. Army Cadet Command, or the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York

As a regional associate, Soldiers will take on local challenges tailored to their specific market, Stark said. Then, as they progress as marketing officers, and the career field expands, more career options will, too.

Soldiers will learn and specialize in multiple marketing roles, Stark said, and work holistically with cross-functional marketing teams to solve various challenges.

Typical projects start with officers working shoulder-to-shoulder with industry partners to develop strategies and manage the Army brand. This cross-functional job identifies and classifies market segments.

Once a new strategy is developed, it turns into a marketing campaign and moves on to include creative content. After the campaign content is ready, marketing officers then identify the best medium for it.

After the best channels are identified based on local considerations, the content is delivered. Finally, the marketing team will analyze data after it's delivered, and inform leaders of future changes to the strategy.

"The unique experiences of both Soldiers and marketing experts will ensure FA 58 officers possess an integral understanding of Army operations and the value proposition of service in order to create, analyze, and lead Army marketing strategy and execution," Wardynski said.

Eligible Soldiers looking for a change to reclassify into FA 58 should contact FA58ArmyMarketing@westpoint.edu or get more information through the Army's MILPER postings website at www.hrc.army.mil/milper.