Russia has invaded Ukraine and has set its sights on further military adventures. China’s military might continues to grow.
Apparently, that’s not attracting the woke crowd the way one thinks it might.
It’s bad enough that during testimony before a House Armed Services Committee panel on Tuesday, the Army’s vice chief of staff admitted that, in large part because of recruiting shortfalls, the service is estimated to lose 28,000 troops by the end of fiscal year 2023.
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In what the Army Times called “a stunning admission,” Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin told the panel that the Army would be understrength by roughly 7,000 soldiers at the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The report said Martin “also confirmed that the Army notified a House military personnel panel that it expects to have between 445,000 and 452,000 soldiers at the end of fiscal 2023, a 28,000-soldier drop from the original end end strength the Army projected for 2022.”
In an email to the Army Times, spokeswoman Lt. Col. Loni Ayers issued a clarification, saying Martin “stated the estimated end strength for FY22 is 466.4K. Our estimated end strength for FY23 is between 445-452K.”
That’s still dramatically short of the Army’s target end strength of 473,000 for this year and 476,000 for the next.
The problem isn’t retention, mind you — it’s recruitment.
Keep in mind that at the beginning of the year, the end strength target was 485,000. That number was cut by 12,000 in April when the service realized recruiting goals weren’t going to be met. (Those recruiting goals were also cut by 15,000.)
“Retention numbers remain near record highs — more than 57,000 troops reenlisted as of July 7, against an annual goal of around 54,000 — but the Army’s recruiting failures have proven too much to overcome,” the Army Times noted.
“The reasons contributing to plunging recruitment are complex, including more detailed medical screenings, a shrinking proportion of Americans eligible to serve, poor marketing practices, low civilian unemployment and more.”
“This is not a one-year challenge,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said.
“And because it’s not a one-year problem we will solve overnight, we are examining a wide range of additional steps we could take in the short and longer term to recruit more soldiers into the Army without lowering standards or sacrificing quality,” she said.
Except lowering standards and sacrificing quality were options on the table. For a brief time, the Army let applicants who didn’t have a high school diploma or a GED but who scored in the top half of their entry aptitude tests enlist; the controversial policy lasted only a week before it was terminated.
The Army is also looking at a pre-basic training camp in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for recruits who don’t meet current standards and need to improve aptitude scores or lose body fat.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that over one-third of Americans 18-24 and nearly a third of those 25-39 haven’t received the full vaccination for a disease that poses little risk to them.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr, now with the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, said the mandate was “another subtraction from the qualified pool of people” and “dragged [the military] into the political sphere.”
Then there’s the fact, the Army Times reported, that market research from last summer “indicates that the percentage who are willing to serve is slipping as well, reaching lows not seen since the grinding surge years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Perhaps it’s ads like this, released just prior to that market research in May 2021:
Not only is that painful bit of pandering unlikely to send a horde of gender studies majors into their local recruitment office, but it also manages to turn off the traditional Army recruitment base, people who are unlikely to enter a service being pitched as a kind of woke social engineering project.
“Look, it’s ridiculous, and the men and women of our military, our soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines are the toughest, most ferocious, and effective fighting force on the face of the planet,” Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz told Fox News after that infamous viral ad was released last year.
“They are the reason we are free,” he said. “They are the reason we have our rights. And what we’re seeing is Democratic politicians and these woke, lefty bureaucrats and lefty media reporters trying to destroy the American military, trying to turn it into, frankly, a bunch of pansies.”
Oh, but it’s worse than Cruz imagined.
Even if the Biden administration’s military succeeded at that goal, they couldn’t even manage to recruit enough pansies to do the job right.
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