US military admits ‘unprecedented’ recruiting crisis

Military officials expect to miss recruiting target by 25% this year

The military has so far recruited about half of the 60,000 new soldiers it hoped to recruit by October 1, officials said Tuesday, admitting that if the downward trend does not reverse, it will could have a significant impact on combat readiness in the years to come.

“We have unprecedented challenges with both a post-Covid-19 environment and labor market, but also competition with private companies that have changed their incentives over time,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin told a House Armed Services subcommittee, according to AP.

The U.S. military has struggled to attract new soldiers, posting its lowest recruiting numbers in decades this year. Last month, the Pentagon admitted it was 23% behind hiring targets. The problem has been widely blamed on bad publicity – in particular the recent tendency to “wake up” widely mocked ads on social media – and an outdated, sloppy recruitment system that places too much responsibility in the hands of outside contractors.

Facing the most serious recruiting problems in any branch of the military, the U.S. military currently offers bonuses of up to $50,000 – which may turn out to be much less in practice – for a six-year enlistment, but still struggling to find enough volunteers. Martin projected that the army’s strength could drop from the expected 476,000 to 466,400 troops by the end of this exercise, and to as few as 445,000 troops by the end of 2023.

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“The Army faces our toughest recruiting environment since the creation of the all-volunteer force,” Armed Forces Secretary Christine Wormuth said during the hearing. “We are faced with a very fundamental question… Are we lowering the standards to achieve end strength, or are we lowering end strength to maintain quality professional strength? We think the answer is obvious: quality is more important than quantity.

An internal Department of Defense survey seen by NBC last month showed that only 9% of eligible citizens between the ages of 17 and 24 intend to serve in the armed forces, the lowest number since 2007. In the Meanwhile, the total number of Americans physically, mentally, and morally qualified to join has fallen from 29% to 23% in recent years.

According to the Pentagon, the top three reasons potential recruits gave for wanting to join the military were money, paying for education, and travel. Meanwhile, the top three reasons against joining were listed as fear of injury or death, psychological trauma, and sexual harassment or assault.


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