The Army’s Recruiting Crisis

The military is falling far behind in its recruitment goals. At Army Times John Ferrari and John Kem propose four prospective strategies for remedying that:

  • Put people in Recruiting Command on the promotions track. Right now it’s a dead end.
  • Use commercially available sales software to improve recuiting.
  • Decentralize procurement as it pertains to recruiting.
  • Clearly articulate what it means by quality and why it believes most Americans are not qualified for recruitment into the Armed Forces.

I was surprised that not going to war when we’re not fully committed to winning didn’t make the cut. I would think that an endless meatgrinder from which victory was denied would be demotivating.

14 comments… add one
  • Andy Link

    The irony is that wars often generate a surge in recruitment.

    And now we aren’t fighting much anywhere, so regardless of perceptions, there’s not much worry about getting sent to Iraq or Afghanistan to die.

    The biggest factor, though, is usually the civilian economy. When it’s doing really well and when there is low unemployment, recruitment suffers because competition is greater. And since military standards are generally higher than other jobs in several areas (fitness, drugs, medical conditions, etc.), the recruiting pool is smaller. And I think that’s been the issue recently – the current generation of young people is different in that they tend to have a lot more problems that prevent them from being eligible for military service. And, at the other end, many just don’t seem interested when the alternative is going to college and working in an office afterward. Military service is increasingly seen as “working class” and therefore beneath “smart” people who go to college. There is also a lot more hostility to giving military recruiters access to high school students, even though it’s still legally required in most places. But generally, I think schools are hostile to military service, especially given how focused they are on college prep above all else.

    The traditional tool is to throw money at the problem with enlistment bonuses, but that probably isn’t as effective anymore.

    Two sure ways to increase recruitment are to reduce government-subsidized college loans and reduce recruitment standards. The former would make the GI Bill and programs like ROTC a lot more attractive. But of course, that will not happen. The latter will increase the pool of available candidates at the potential cost of lower quality.

  • bob sykes Link

    The current military is dominated by people who are totally woke, and they transmit the message that the military is anti- white, heterosexual, men. That message has leaked out, and there is no reason for a white, heterosexual man to sign up.

    If you think that’s nonsense, go over to CDR Salamander,

    and read his Diversity Thursday diatribes.

  • Andy Link

    We have one group of people claiming the military is dominated by “woke” culture and another group of people claiming the military is dominated by culturally sexist, male-dominated neanderthals.


  • Both could be correct if, for example, the general officer corps is overwhelmingly “woke”, while the balance of the force are “culturally sexist, male-dominated neanderthals”.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    How about letting foreigners join the army, ala the French foreign legion, British Gurkas, or Ukraine’s international legion.

    I bet you could get twice the soldiers at half the cost.

  • There are about 80,000 non-citizens in the U S military. Permanent residents who speak English and have graduated from high school may join.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Drop the permanent resident requirement.

  • walt moffett Link

    If the citizen’s don’t think the nation is worth defending, how long will it last?

    If you can’t get recruits maybe attention to retaining what you have by paying attention to what the troops grumble about could work.

  • steve Link

    On the retention issue I think one of the bigger problems used to be the frequent moves. You used to have to move every 4 years. I think they have made some efforts to address that but you still end up moving around quite a bit. Rough on family. At the margins the contractors are also affecting retention. One of my reservists left the military to join a contractor. Pays much better.

    On the woke vs macho/sexist debate just talking with my reservists it all seems overblown. Its mostly young men so it probably trends towards the latter but young people today are a bit more tolerant than we were in the past so they no longer beat the crap out of someone if they think they might be gay.


  • jan Link

    I’m personally amazed at some of the responses to the low military recruitment level seen recently.

    One of the background ”grumbles,” alluded to by walt moffett, might be directed at the unpopular mandated COVID vaccine policy. How many officers and service men/women were scrubbed out because of this? Air Force pilots, even though in short supply, were prevented to do what they were trained for because of their refusal to take the shot. Then you have the CRT indoctrination that has infused military personnel prepared to render service to their country, but instead are forced to participate in ideological racial and gender education. Furthermore, parents have been dismayed by the new “woke” military direction and stances, and are not encouraging their children to join a military imbibing in principles so radically different from the immediate family’s religious and personal values, followed by perhaps a dubious deployment to Ukraine.

  • Andy Link

    I’ve been retired for six years now – time flies – but still have a lot of friends and colleagues who are still in.

    The “woke” stuff is mostly an irrelevant annual training evolution that is designed to check a box rather than significantly change military culture.

    How much the hyperventilation about this is affecting recruitment is anyone’s guess, but my guess is “not much.”

    Steve mentions frequent moves. That is still the norm. The moves can be difficult, but the major issue – at least for the people I know and for our family, is spousal employment. Moving is not optional in the military and so the spouses’ career is de facto secondary. It’s hard for a spouse to develop a career when they have to quit their job and relocated every 2-4 years.

    This was fine back when it was normal for families to have a single breadwinner – it’s an anachronism today. That said, frequently rotating troops does have real advantages.

  • steve Link

    I am further out from service than you are Andy but I preferentially hire ex-military and reservists. (We make up the pay differential when people get called up for reserve duty as an example.) Talking with them, day to day military culture doesnt really sound all that much different than when I was in. I know that wont convince jan or any other conservative since what they read or heard on a right wing site would far outweigh the opinion of anyone who actually served in the military.

    My only caveat would be that in some situations individual commanders have a lot of leeway. On one of my bases it was well known that the base commander was a devout Christian. If you wanted to advance it was good to make sure you were seen going to Bible studies and/or prayer meetings. An awful lot of meetings started off with a prayer. So I can certainly see that for any given unit if you had someone who was a macho ass or a woke idiot it could filter into day to day activities but for the military as a whole just dont see it.


  • jan Link

    According to the above piece progressive “wokism” does dampen enlistment enthusiasm. What I’ve heard is many recruitments come from the south, a population inherently more conservative and family oriented. These are the very demographics likely to be turned off by the type of ideology being promoted by the military’s woke agenda, i.e. under General Milley or Austin for example.

    The military’s mandated vax policy has also been a deterrent in incentivizing recruitment, as well as thinning out the ranks of those already in the military. I know our one-sided press coverage never explores these facets, as they may weaken the narrative of “efficacy and no harm” stealthily cultivated by the government. However, as of the present more vaccinated than unvaccinated people are dying from COVID. Also, medical stats, before they were suddenly deleted after being exposed by three whistleblowers, indicated a 300% increase in miscarriages, a 300% increase in cancer, and a 1000% increase in neurological diseases since the vaccines were introduced. Ironically, too, there is a greater demand now for blood from the unvaccinated than from those vaccinated with this experimental gene therapy shot.

  • steve Link

    More people are vaccinated than not vaccinated. What you want to know is rates. If you are over 65 you are about 4 times as likely to die from covid if you have never been vaccinated. If cancer had increased by a factor of 3 people would have noticed. I wouldn’t have time to post on blogs. It’d bizarre that anyone would believe that.

    Of note in your article actual military people arent that worried. People who have never served, like Dreher, are concerned. Of course.


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