The U.S. military recruitment crisis could cause severe damage to an already weakening military that would be hard to recover from. That’s a very dangerous situation to be in as America’s prime enemy China strengthens its military and becomes increasingly hostile to the U.S.
War on the Rocks, a platform featuring content from war and defense experts, published an article in March 2023 with the gloomy warning, “The all-volunteer force may finally have reached its breaking point.”
There are, of course, many factors — COVID-19 vaccine mandates, distrust of government and military leadership, and wokeness (particularly LGBTQ ideology) in the military are just three of them. Another big factor is that an increasingly small number of Americans can even qualify to serve in the military, despite lowered fitness standards.
A study published in September 2022 found that “77% of young Americans would not qualify for military service without a waiver due to being overweight, using drugs, or having mental and physical health problems.” And conservative or generally patriotic Americans are having misgivings about joining as incompetent leadership (think Joe Biden and Gen. Mark Milley) and radical leftism seem to be in total control of the U.S. military.
But regardless of the various factors, both provable and speculative, the fact remains that the U.S. military is facing a catastrophic recruiting crisis that isn’t likely to improve. This comes as the anti-American CCP pours effort and funding into its military and becomes increasingly and boastfully hostile toward the U.S.
“China is building up its armed forces at a rapid pace,” the BBC reported in July 2022. Just one recent threat involved the CCP warning the U.S. that Taiwan and any U.S. troops potentially assisting Taiwan are “within range” of CCP “firepower.” The CCP has also excitedly announced that a China-led world order appears to be replacing a U.S.-led world order. Both China and Russia have even warned the U.S. of nuclear war — which could be blowharding, but could also contain a real threat. This is not a good time for the U.S. military to start fragmenting and faltering.
War on the Rocks:
How bad is the recruiting crisis? During the last fiscal year, the Army missed its recruiting goal by 15,000 active-duty soldiers, or 25 percent of its target. This shortfall forced the Army to cut its planned active-duty end strength from 476,000 to 466,000. And the current fiscal year is likely to be even worse. Army officials project that active end strength could shrink by as much as 20,000 soldiers by September, down to 445,000. That means that the nation’s primary land force could plummet by as much as 7 percent in only two years — at a time when its missions are increasing in Europe and even in the Pacific, where the Army provides many of the critical wartime theater enablers without which the other services cannot function.
The other services barely met their active-duty recruiting goals last year, but it will be harder for them to do so in 2023.
Military Times reported in April that the Marine Corps was set to meet its recruiting goals for fiscal year 2023 and the Space Force could be equally successful. The Army, however, is set to continue its disastrous recruiting trend, and the Navy and Air Force are also likely to miss recruiting goals.
I know military people whose friends have about 15 years in the military and can’t wait to retire at 20 years. It used to be the goal to be promoted and stay as long as possible. Now service members are practically counting the days. One soldier I talked to who joined the service with great enthusiasm for the military was practically ecstatic at the near approach of his retirement. The point is that a lot of experienced leaders and soldiers and officers are eager to get out, meaning that there is likely to be a mass exodus of the most competent service members within the next five to ten years. That will make the current recruiting crisis even more damaging.
This leads me to my next point, that military families are for the first time discouraging children in larger numbers from entering the military. As of June 2022, 70% of new military recruits were children or relatives of former or current service members, but the trend is shifting. I have seen that trend personally in my lifetime. When I was little, there was nothing all the military families I knew (including my own) wanted more than to see their children enter the military. Now even hard-core enthusiasts are starting to advise their children to look for other careers. “It’s not worth it — the leadership is woke and incompetent, and not to be trusted,” military parents tell their children.
This is especially true among parents who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. After seeing how U.S. military leadership squandered the sacrifices they and their buddies made in the Middle East, many became completely disillusioned with the military to which they had once been so loyal. Biden dealt what could well be a death blow to pro-military enthusiasm among former members of the military.
Then there’s the quality of recruits. One retired airman I know who is now a civilian employee of the Air Force told me that young officers and enlisted have a habit of accusing a superior or more experienced officer of racism or prejudice as soon as they are criticized or given advice.
“Racist! Transphobe!” Those are the responses now to advice or rebukes that used to be par for the course. And so incompetent or inexperienced recruits do not improve at all and yet have egos the size of a Biden family bribe.
I’m not the only person to notice these issues, certainly. War on the Rocks also noted that “the number of Americans expressing confidence in the U.S. military has plummeted in the past few years,” and “there are some early indications that fewer people in and around the military are willing to recommend military service to young people.” The piece also confessed the issue of “wokeness” making the military less appealing to Republicans.
A recent poll found that conservatism is at its highest level in the U.S. in a decade and that even young people are slowly becoming more conservative. Republicans were historically most likely to be military, which is probably why the military is finding that drag queens and diversity promotions aren’t helping recruitment. Blue-haired vegan lesbians might like drag queens, but they’re not as likely to sign up to serve.
The U.S. military needs to stop promoting based on diversity instead of competence, throw out the woke, and rebuild America’s international standing as we face the CCP threat. Unfortunately, however, that’s not likely to happen, as the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, has made “diversity” and “inclusion” a focus. It seems as if only China is taking this face-off seriously.