Americans have often taken for granted that our country will have the best equipped and most capable military in the entire world. And when our political leaders deploy the military to do a job, they assume our military can get it done.
But that is only possible if talented and patriotic people are ready and willing to serve. Some recent trends suggest that may no longer be the case.
The U.S. Army has announced that it fell about 15,000 new soldiers short of its recruitment goal for the year — recruiting just 45,000. The other branches of the military just barely met their goals, but had to draw on delayed-entry applicants. (The Marine Corps, for instance, usually enters each new fiscal year with half of the next year’s recruits already signed up, but will have only about one-third for 2023.)
And the military’s woes don’t stop there:
- While the Navy met enlistment targets, it enters the new year short by about 200 officers.
- Only about one in four 17- to 24-year-olds are eligible to serve due to reasons of health and drug use — and only about one in 11 Gen Z-ers are interested in serving.
- The share of Americans who say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the military is down 10 points since 2018.
The Wall Street Journal says in an editorial that many of the problems can be traced to “anachronistic practices” of both recruitment and retention, and that this crisis should move Congress to allow the branches more room for experimentation and reform. It will take leaders of both parties working together to get us back on track. Join us in our efforts to build bipartisan ties.