Trump's 'Force 47' of campaign volunteers shares a name with controversial group

The latest campaign initiative by former President Donald Trump, dubbed "Trump Force 47," is described as an "army" of volunteer neighborhood organizers. The group coincidentally shares its name with a controversial unit of the Vietnamese army known for combatting dissent online.

Following his guilty verdict in the New York hush money last month and ongoing election interference case, the Trump campaign launched a canvassing effort to mobilize voters in crucial battleground states. With a surge in donations that overwhelmed website servers post-conviction, allies of the former president are optimistic that this momentum will encourage supporters to volunteer for the get-out-the-vote group

Trump served as the 45th U.S. president from 2017-2021, and should he win the election in November, he would become the 47th, given that his terms were not consecutive. If successful, he'll be only the second U.S. president, after Grover Cleveland, to return to office with a break between terms.

But Trump's volunteer group is not the first 'Force 47' in politics. The Vietnamese army's 'Force 47' derived its name from Directive 47, a policy document issued by the army's General Political Department in 2016. Analysts told Reuters in 2021 that it was created as an alternative to hiring civilian "opinion shapers" who had operated on a smaller, less successful scale.

More: How did the jury find Donald Trump guilty? Details on all 22 court days of historic trial.

What is Trump Force 47?

Trump Force 47 volunteers perform targeted voter outreach in their neighborhoods by calling voters, poll watching, hosting Trump house parties, and delivering yard signs, according to the initiative's website.

The New York State Young Republicans advertised the campaign initiative in a post on its Facebook page listing Trump Force 47 captains' commitments. These include attending a one-hour training, visiting ten targeted voters in their neighborhood, and registering them as early voters.

Trump's 2024 campaign is focusing on securing pledges to vote early, which marks a reversal of his past allegations and lawsuits, which he backed to restrict or end the practice.

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Rachel Barber is a 2024 election fellow at USA TODAY, focusing on politics and education. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, as @rachelbarber_

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump Force 47 shares name with controversial group