In a time where the U.S. military is facing enormous looming threats from Russia, China, Iran, and numerous other major threats, American forces are going to have to do more with less. This is especially true when it comes to manpower.
Military recruiting has been in a slump for years, but now it has gotten to the point where lawmakers (the “they” in the above headline) simply decided to drop the military’s authorized end strength. This is, of course, a shell game to make the numbers look better. I’ll explain. Let’s say that you really need a military of 1 million people. But due to a variety of reasons, you can only get 900,000 and that recruiting shortfall is REALLY making your administration look bad… so bad that you have to do something about it.
But what to do?
The most logical place to start when looking to solve a problem is to look at why the problem exists in the first place. So what is causing the military’s current recruiting woes? Well, one answer to that question might come from the timing. According to the Military Times: “All of the Defense Department service branches have seen significant cuts in active-duty numbers since the end of 2020.”
Hm… what happened at the end of 2020 that could be impacting military recruiting in 2024?
Military recruiting ebbs and flows, but it is particularly bad now. And a large part of the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of the policies of the current presidential administration. Policies like the Afghanistan debacle, forcing people out over refusing the (experimental and, as it turned out, ineffective) COVID-19 vaccination) and the constant injection of DEI and other woke policies are not only keeping people from joining up, but are also driving current members of the military out.
So, the problem exists, but doing something meaningful about it is hard, especially if the same people who caused the problem in the first place are the ones in charge of fixing it. In this case, instead of saying, “Hey, we messed up, let’s take a tactical pause and regroup,” the rich men north of Richmond just decided to try to hide the problem through political legerdemain.
With the stroke of a pen, Congress simply lowered the military’s authorized end strength, which makes a lot of the recruiting problems (or at least the reporting about them) go away. So looking back at the example I used at the beginning of this article, if we needed a million-person force but were short an embarrassing 100,000 troops, then you just drop the overall end strength to 900,000. “Recruiting problem? What recruiting problem?”
This type of “solution” is reminiscent about the ways in which America has decided to handle things like the racial education gap. Too few non-white kids in high school Advanced Placement classes? OK then, no more AP classes. Problem solved! Too few military recruits? Pretend that we need fewer people. Problem solved! But of course policies like that don’t solve anything. In fact, they make the situation worse for everyone involved. And that’s exactly what Congress just did.
Pretending that problems don’t exist doesn’t make them go away. There is a huge problem in America right now, and military recruiting (or lack thereof) is only one symptom of it. Even with lowering the military’s end strength and recruiting goals, because the underlying problems aren’t being addressed recruiters will still have to lower standards to get enough people into uniform.
Contrary to popular belief it’s actually quite difficult to qualify for the military, and most Americans are simply too fat, too dumb, or too criminal to join up. So in addition to simply not hiring people that the military needs, they’re going to end up hiring a lot of people they don’t need by allowing people in who otherwise wouldn’t make the cut.
That’s not good either, because lowering recruiting standards has consequences. Bowe Bergdahl and Bradley Manning, for example, would most likely have either been forced out of the service or not allowed to join at all, if the Army wasn’t so desperate for manpower during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. military is experiencing a recruiting crisis is a problem now, but it’s going to be a catastrophe later. If the root causes aren’t remedied immediately and permanently, we will see the consequences when the next global conflagration begins. And when that happens, the few who DO make the decision to join the military–despite the inherent risk of death or debilitation, despite the risk of physical or psychological injury, despite the constant anti-American drumbeat–are the ones who pay the price.
Scott Faith is a veteran of a half-dozen combat deployments and has served in several different Special Operations units over the course of his Army career. Scott’s writing focuses largely on veterans’ issues, but he is also a strong proponent of Constitutional rights and has a deep interest in politics. He often allows other veterans who request anonymity to publish their work under his byline. Scott welcomes story ideas and feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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