The Evolution of Uncle Sam

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With cyberwarfare and shrinking drones dominating recent headlines, it can often seem as if the nature of combat is changing faster than ever. But in Foreign Policy's War Issue, Thomas Barnett examines these transformations and reminds us that combat roles have been evolving ever since the Civil War, when the primary role of marines was to act as snipers hidden away in the masts of ships. 

As combat roles have changed, so have the military's recruitment efforts. From the imploring "cash prize" Civil War-era flyers to the sometimes-clumsy attempts to entice women and minorities into the service, these images give us insight into not only who served but what service meant at the time.

Above, a Civil War poster advertises Navy service as an attractive alternative to the wartime military draft.


This World War I recruiting poster depicts soldiers transmitting information through wireless and signal flags.



In World War I, women were allowed to enlist in the Navy and Marine Corps for the first time. Artist Howard Chandler Christy's iconic "Christy Girl," created around 1918, graced a number of recruiting posters at the time and marked the milestone.



Just a decade after its creation, the U.S. Air Force participated in World War I. This recruiting poster by Charles Livingston Bull, which circulated around 1917, highlights the growing aerial element of war.



This World War I recruiting poster by artist Warren Keith highlights what soldiers will gain from enlisting -- a theme that still characterizes military recruitment materials today.



This World War II Air Force poster by artist Clayton Knight, created around 1940, depicts the United States as the world's leading air force.



A World War II Navy recruitment poster by Barclay McClelland, circa 1941.



This Vietnam-era recruitment poster downplays the draft, encouraging voluntary enlistment.




A Marine Corps recruitment poster from 1967.


In the early 1970s, the Navy launched a campaign to bring in more African-American recruits. Above is a poster from that era, issued in 1972.



An early attempt at racial integration in the Navy misses the mark in this poster from 1972.


The Marine Corps is the smallest branch of the military, hence their slogan "The Few, The Proud, The Marines." This poster is from the 1970s.



In this 1978 ad, a woman repairs an aircraft. "If you've got what it takes to be a high school graduate," the ad declares, "chances are you've got what it takes to be a Marine."



This poster, from 1980, strives to demonstrate increasing diversity in the Marines.  



The 1980s witnessed the beginning of the famous "Be All You Can Be" Army slogan.



A 1995 attempt at encouraging female participation in the Marines begins with the line, "You can change the shade of your lipstick, or you can change your life."


This 1990 U.S. Army recruiting poster was a continuation of the successful, "Army, be all you can be" marketing campaign.



The "Army Strong" campaign, originally launched in 2006, used testosterone-charged TV spots and posters to emphasize strength and action. 



This 2011 Air Force poster alludes to the increasing role technology plays in the military, while hewing to the traditional image of a soldier.

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