The United States Army Esports team is a competitive team of members of the US Army. Its members are drawn from the Regular Army and Army Reserves. The team was formed in 2018 to represent the Army in esports competitions and events across the nation.
Some of the soldiers in the US Army have expressed a strong desire to represent the US Army in competitive gaming. Their goals and purposes have shown how gaming can help people connect to young people and show them a side of soldiers that they may not have expected. This initiative has helped soldiers more visible and relatable to today’s youth.
Competitive online gaming is part of the duties of the esports team, and soldiers travel to various events and competitions for the Army. The team members receive the same pay and benefits as other soldiers of equal ranks in the Army.
Recruitment and Training
In 2018, the US Army reported a 6,500-soldier shortfall despite putting $200 million into bonuses and issuing extra waivers for health issues, and it was its first recruiting miss since 2005. Hence, the Army tried a new approach to bring in soldiers to reach its goal of 500,000 in active-duty service by the end of 2020.
The Army announced it was seeking soldiers for an esports team and wrote “build awareness of skills that can be used as professional soldiers and use gaming knowledge to be more relatable to youth.” By January 2019, more than 6,500 people applied for the team that was expected to have only 30 members.
Team members who are competing will train up to six hours a day and receive instruction on Army enlistment programs so that they can answer questions from potential recruits. They implemented recruiting strategies by focusing on young people between the age of 17 and 24.
They focused on 22 cities in traditional recruiting grounds. The people were informed with what life is in the Army and the benefits of serving, such as money for college or skills that appeal to employers.
US Army Esports Team Accused of Violation
It was reported on July 17 that the US Army Esports team is guilty of a violation of the First Amendment. They were accused of banning people during streaming sessions on Twitch who asked questions about US war crimes.
Since June 2020, the members were hit with uncomfortable questions regarding US war crimes. It quickly turned into a game for the viewers to see how fast one can get banned from the Twitch or Discord channel by asking a risky question.
The viewers have linked the Wikipedia page for war crimes committed by the country and bombarded the comment section with anti-army jokes and memes, making the streamers extremely uncomfortable.
Activist Jordan Uhl mentioned that the esports team should not aggressively ban or remove anyone from their Twitch or Discord channels in what is essentially their recruiting tool. He stated that the younger generation should have the right to know about the military and its history.
The ACLU and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University agreed with Uhl and said that the US Army esports team clearly violated the First Amendment.