The United States military is facing its worst recruiting crisis in nearly 50 years. Despite offering hefty enlistment bonuses and the ability to choose your first duty station, the three major services are all expected to miss their annual recruitment goals by thousands this year, according to recent testimony by the service chiefs at the House Armed Services Committee.
Recruiting numbers have failed to improve despite significant efforts by the military services, leading to undermanned Navy ships and the potential to cut the number of Army Brigade Combat Teams. This is the result of a number of factors, including a strong U.S. economy and a competitive job market, legally ineligible recruits, a lack of knowledge and patriotism among youth, as well as differences between Generation Z (youth aged 18-24, who are currently in the prime recruitment age) and prior generations.
This is an issue that requires a multi-faceted approach to fix. Not only is action needed from the government and military leaders, but parents, teachers, and community role models must also engage with young people to explain the importance of military service and the positive impact it can have on their lives.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, most Americans remain unaware that their military is shrinking by the day due to widespread military detachment from the public, as well as a generally positive perception of the armed forces. This is concerning as it will take an effort from an entire nation to solve the crisis.
Military communications must also be reshaped in order to appeal to young people. The public must be educated on the benefits of military service, such as social mobility, post-service educational opportunities, and key leadership skills and self-discipline. Any negative aspects of military service – such as mental and physical trauma – must be addressed.
There can be no more excuses or delays. Our leaders must take action and show the American public that military service is essential and critical to the nation, and that there are real benefits to participating. It is not an easy job to convince hundreds of thousands of young people to sign up their lives for the armed forces, but it is a necessary task. It’s time for the United States to confront the military recruiting crisis.
Joe Biden presided over the first shortfall in recruiting in the history of our all-volunteer military.
We are missing 20,000 soldiers—an entire division.
The only job not being done effectively is Commander in Chief.
— Coach Tommy Tuberville (@SenTuberville) July 31, 2023