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Air National Guard Bolsters Recruiting, Retention With First-ever NFL Partnership

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sarah McClanahan
  • Air National Guard

ARLINGTON, Va. --- For the first time in Air National Guard history, the ANG has partnered with a National Football League team to bolster the Air Force Recruiting Service's Total Force recruiting efforts. As part of the partnership with the Washington Commanders, the ANG logo will be featured on the team’s defensive players’ practice jerseys throughout the 2023 season to help reach and inspire the next generation of Guard Airmen.

“Never before in the history of the ANG’s marketing efforts has the ANG partnered with an NFL team,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col Robert Fore, ANG director of marketing, Air Force Recruiting Service. “This partnership will put our ANG brand in front of millions of sports fans and will reach future ANG members, prior service, and past ANG members.”

With the Commanders’ official military appreciation program, Washington Salute, dating back to 2009, the Commanders have had a longstanding relationship with the U.S. Air Force. In particular, Joint Base Andrews, located around 10 miles from the NFL team’s stadium, has regularly supported the Commanders through on-base engagements, visits and gameday initiatives, said Chris Bailey, Washington Salute military program lead.

“The Washington Commanders are committed to our military community, particularly in the [national capital region], in partnership with the NFL’s year-round Salute to Service initiative,” said Bailey. “Our military engagement program, Washington Salute, is committed to honoring, empowering, and connecting service members, veterans, and their families through a year-round, robust calendar of events, base visits, and gameday recognition moments.”

According to the Commanders’ press release on the partnership, service members will host a number of activities and events at training camp and on game days throughout the season to educate fans about their branch of service and identify volunteer and long-term service opportunities.

“The Air National Guard is no longer known as the best-kept secret in the military,” said Fore. “Our goal is to boost our recruiting efforts by reaching a highly propensed audience and increasing our brand awareness across the nation, who better than partnering with our capital professional football team.”

According to Master Sgt. Devin Doskey, total force public affairs non-commissioned officer in charge, Headquarters Air Force Recruiting Service, the District of Columbia’s rich military history and both organizations’ shared values played a role in the partnership selection process.

“We are thrilled that our partnership with the U.S. Air Force will help us reinforce our steadfast commitment to local service members, particularly given our proximity to a community with such a deep military legacy," said Bailey.

By building on shared goals, both organizations aim to maximize their impact on the field and in the communities they serve.

“Most Air National Guard Airmen are individuals who live and serve local to their ANG unit,” said Fore. “They embody the Citizen-Airman who serves one weekend a month and returns to their community and family for the rest of the month until called upon. They are members of their local community, so they have a vested interest to serve local and protect their community.”

According to the Commanders’ article on its 2022 renaming and rebranding, the NFL team’s new brand identity brings to life the commitment to service and leadership that defines the national capital region community.

“From its emphasis on honor and tradition to its value of servant leadership, our military community stands as a powerful example for the Commanders to look to,” said Bailey. “The team’s new ownership group led by Managing Partner Josh Harris has repeatedly reaffirmed its desire to strengthen the deep relationship the Commanders have with the military community of the region, and this partnership with Air National Guard is just one more opportunity to put actions behind those words and pay tribute to our armed forces in this new era of Commanders football.”

In addition to the Commanders, the ANG currently has partnerships with a variety of organizations, including Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball teams, the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC, and Athletes Unlimited.

“By aligning with established local and national organizations, the ANG can leverage their widespread recognition to increase brand awareness and draw attention to the employment and benefit opportunities the ANG offers,” said Doskey. “This exposure attracts potential recruits and emphasizes the ANG's commitment to service and community engagement, which can positively influence retention and application rates, and lead to a broader pool of qualified candidates and greater interest in ANG career opportunities.”