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U.S. Military Grows Desperate for Troops Following Disastrous Recruiting Year

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2023
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by Andrew Abbott
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Dog Tags and Patched from each of the armed forces

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott

2022 marked one of the worst years for military recruiting since the Vietnam War. As American adversaries like Russia, China, and Iran grow more aggressive, military leaders are now turning to new incentive programs to try to fill their ranks – leading to concerns that lower standards could affect readiness.

The Army saw the worst recruiting shortfall in 2022, coming up 25% short of its goal – amounting to about 15,000 new soldiers. While the Pentagon has stressed that its current 465,000 troop count is enough to meet current mission demands, there is a significant danger to operational capacity moving forward if last year’s struggles are not reversed.

The Marine Corps, meanwhile, technically met its recruiting marks for 2022, but only after reducing its goals following a decade of missed targets. While the Navy also met its active duty enlisted recruitment goals last year, it only did so by increasing the number of recruits it accepted from the lowest aptitude percentile on the military’s qualification test, and also missed target numbers for active duty and reserve officers.

The Air Force also missed its goals for officers, and the Air National Guard and Reserve fell thousands of troops short. The Coast Guard saw its fourth straight year of missing its recruitment goals in 2022, a span where the branch has fallen an average of 20% short.

Amid these alarming recruitment failures and as some top generals are warning about a potential conflict with China on the horizon, recruiters are looking for any way to incentivize young people to sign up.

The Army has been the most active of the five branches so far in 2023 in implementing a renewed push for recruits. One of the simplest and most popular changes is the reintroduction of “Be All You Can Be” as the Army’s slogan. The widely beloved and popular advertising campaign was retired in January 2001. To this day, many consider it the signature Army motto, and its reintroduction was met with praise.

Along with the rhetorical changes came a series of financial and logistical incentives. Soldiers can now select their duty station right out of basic training. Army officials hope permitting junior enlisted service members to be stationed closer to their hometowns will ease their transition into service.

Recruits can also receive a guaranteed promotion if they convince a friend to enlist in the military. For doing so, they will be rewarded with a “recruiting ribbon.” Critics are concerned that such awards denigrate the integrity of other service medals, but the award is still moving forward.

Recruits are also being offered generous cash benefits for signing up, following similar moves by other branches. The Air Force offered more than $22 million in enlistment incentive bonuses in 2022. Army recruits can now earn up to $50,000 when they join.

Top Army brass insists these changes are being implemented to ensure recruitment standards do not need to be relaxed for new soldiers. Army Chief of Staff General James McConville stated in a recent interview, “We don’t want to lower standards. We think that quality is more important than quantity.”

Despite these assurances, the Army has already relaxed standards in several significant ways. Late last year, the Department of Defense allowed 700 recruits with behavioral disorders, specifically ADHD, to enlist without a waiver. If these recruits perform well in service, the DOD will likely expand these relaxed standards to even more psychological disorders. With over 77% of American youth ineligible for service, the measure is seen by many as a last resort.

Military leadership is hopeful that these changes will address the recruiting shortfall. Yet all of these measures seemingly fail to address the root issues that have created the crisis in the first place. A growing obesity and mental health epidemic among young people is creating a perpetually smaller applicant pool. Persistent concerns about “wokeness” in the military are also driving many would-be recruits away. And an insidious effort by the radical left to use the education system and other cultural institutions to inspire hatred for America rather than patriotism has made the prospect of military service less appealing to many young people.

None of these challenges are insurmountable, and the United States military has proven time and again that it can overcome great obstacles. But that doesn’t negate the need for urgent action, and for both political and military leaders to recognize the severity of the problem at hand.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.

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Eidolon
Eidolon
1 year ago

Liberals have worked hard to transform the republic to a nation that no one would fight for.

John
John
1 year ago

The Left and Joe Biden have made a mockery of our military. The Woke Secretary of Defense is a JOKE. The head of the Joint Chiefs is an EMBARRASSMENT and a disgrace to his uniform. This woke nonsense in the military repels warriors. It is disgusting.

Nunya Bidness
Nunya Bidness
1 year ago

I served for thirty years, starting with the Reagan military of the 80s, where we had no problems fielding a military of millions, enabling us to fight two major adversaries if necessary, even though the economy was booming. Gee, what’s changed? We now have an administration that hates white people, despises America, and is much more concerned with erasing natural women from society than it is in promoting western civilization. Sleep well, America!

Fran
Fran
1 year ago

I’m a Navy retiree. The downward spiral of the Navy is just sad.

Jim
Jim
1 year ago

This is what our WOKE. Military can expect forever. Real men don’t want to be forced to be woke.
real men want real men comrades.

Clark Kent
Clark Kent
1 year ago

‘We don’t want to lower standards’? How much of a lower standard could you have as Bozo Joe as the commander in chief?

Dale Hager
Dale Hager
1 year ago

Even during the Carter Admin. when I served, the overriding principle was war fighting. Combat readiness was paramount, which was challenging because of Carter’s military budget cuts. But I will say the ” —— fully supports the Navy’s Affirmative Action Program” on our evals was the seed that grew into the woke crap we see in todays military.

Lieutenant Beale
Lieutenant Beale
1 year ago

I had to shake my head in disbelief.
On the one hand the so called top brass doesn’t want to lower standards. On the other hand these same folks under the command of this asinine administration wants to turn the U.S. military into woke snowflakes.

InsanitySquared
InsanitySquared
1 year ago

If I was a young lad, I would definitely be steering clear of the Military these days – no matter how much they offered up front. Risking one’s life for some faraway places does not seem like the smart thing to do to me. Actually, when I was younger – about 15 years ago – I did consider joining. But I also read things online about PTSD and other long-term, long lasting ailments that people suffer from after getting out. See, in the age of the Internet, when information is freely available, one can do his or her research to make a more informed decision.

So not joining the Military was one of the best decisions I ever made. That and never marrying and never fathering children. Living in Peace is kind of good to me. Especially in a World that is too unpredictable and uncertain. The fact that we may engage in a nuclear war with Russia does not scare me at all because I don’t have kids. I still do not wish that to happen – I want the Humanity to evolve and do better over time… But if things go south real fast, I had an ok life and I am very thankful for that. I wish others well and thank them for doing hard things that I always avoided and will continue to avoid. Peace.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

End Wokeness then troops will be coming or Not

sdgorton
sdgorton
1 year ago

Biggest incentive is to end & denounce the following 3 evil agendas.
WOKE CRAP, CRT TRAINING BS, AND GENDER BULLSH
End these and your ranks will fill up quickly. Period!!!

Bill R.
Bill R.
1 year ago

I think “woke” is the appropriate name for what is at the root of this problem, as many others have already written. One day we’ll “wake” up, probably when it’s too late.

Rik
Rik
1 year ago

Who wants to serve a Communist wannabe Democratic Administration?
Just imagine if this “donkey” Administration decides to make it mandatory that citizens relinquish their right to own arms and decides to try to use the military to “turn” on their family and friends to relinquish their weapons? Civil War anyone?

Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago

I think Israel has the right plan. Everybody serves. Male and female. Today’s young folks are so dependent on the government providing for them they see no point in the military. It’s someone else’s problem. They also believe, from movies and games, if they get shot they’ll bounce right back up and go on. Their sense of reality is good times forever. The majority of them are scared to put their life on the line, especially since they have no loyalty to America. To offer money to enlist is a sad situation. To coin a phrase they’ll “take the money and run”. Bring the draft back. Don’t lower the standards and help young folks meet expectations.

Felix
Felix
1 year ago

Every day I have in the back of my mind that it may be my last, thanks to our woke Resident and the upper ranks of the military that care more about CRT, LBGTQABC than about being prepared to win a war!

Chuck
Chuck
1 year ago

465,000 is plenty of soldiers to protect America if they were in America. We have American soldiers in over 100 foreign countries. Support our troops–bring them home!

Uncle Bruce
Uncle Bruce
1 year ago

So let me see here. Why would anyone in their right mind want to join our armed forces now. Let’s see, you have “General” Milley and Lloyd Austin running the military. I wouldn’t let either one of them clean my toilet. Then you have some halfass dyke America hating basketball ball player that was bargained for and released while you have an American soldier, Paul Whelan setting in prison in the same country. What’s up with that? I’m a Vietnam veteran and love my country but in all good conscious I wouldn’t recommend any of our young people to sign up for what they have to look forward to at this point. Oh yeah don’t want to get a china virus shot and take the chance of getting sick or dying from it or get thrown out because you’re worried about taking unproven drugs. Cut me a break.

Michael J
Michael J
1 year ago

The military has always been the pawns of the ruling class that had no regard for placing men and women in harm’s way. From start to end our military members were only numbers to be reckoned with should they survive any atrocities of battle whether physical or mental. Maybe if our politicians and bureaucrats were equally tasked, war and talks of war would be the last thing on their minds. Since we’re talking numbers, the asinine policies of kicking qualified service personnel out for refusing to take the covid jab, lowering traditional standards/watering down quotas have taken its toll. “If you can’t meet the standards, lower your standards” appears now to be a reality,
but even that isn’t incentive enough to up their recruitment numbers.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

You get what you pay for. You lower the standards you lower the quality of soldiers. They may be able to use the correct pronouns but that’s not the job of the military. The job of the military is to break stuff and kill people. If we have another War we are going to get our asses handed to us. But hey they’ll be able to use the correct pronouns while they’re being shot. It’s happening everywhere. They lower the standards and they wonder why they get lousy results. Democrats are so freaking stupid. I never forget if their lips are moving they are lying. And they cannot win unless they can cheat

SJB
SJB
1 year ago

No one wants to serve in a Woke military.

John Bass
John Bass
1 year ago

Persistent concerns about “wokeness” in the military are also driving many would-be recruits away. And an insidious effort by the radical left to use the education system and other cultural institutions to inspire hatred for America rather than patriotism has made the prospect of military service less appealing to many young people.

The above paragraph says it all. I know family’s with a long history of military service, including my own that are no longer raising their hands to sign up, and it’s all for the same reason. They all have family members that are currently serving or have recently transitioned out that are telling them what’s going on with their respective service. The reason, for the most part is because the military has gone WOKE! There are more classes on how to address your fellow soldier than there are classes on the weapon’s and tactics that are to be used to fight and win.

I’ve heard young men home on leave tell stories about how if a female or gay soldier had a beef with them all they had to do was file a complaint and the soldier the complaint was filed against would be punished with either a reduction in rank or pay, or both, no investigation ever done. I had one of my nephews tell me how when he was in basic training, that if anyone found the training to be too hard, all they had to do was hold up a PINK card they were given at the onset of basic, and the instructor had to give them a fifteen minute break from said training…nothing prepares you more for the stress of combat that having the ability to take a break when things get too tough.

Wokeness equals Weakness!

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Lowering standards to make numbers doesn’t produce the level of mission ready military personnel needed to protect the United States. You require both the correct mental attitude and discipline, as well the physical toughness and endurance to do the job. Those that want to serve have NO INTEREST in the woke agenda being promoted by the current leadership. Those that are interested in the woke agenda being proposed by the current leadership are generally unfit, both mentally and physically, to carry out the mission of the United States military to defend this country. The problem, in this case, comes from the top ranks of the military caving to the ideals of political left. So, the solution is to replace the likes of Milley, Austin and the rest of the PC leadership with personnel who both understand the role of the military and will stand up for the values that are needed to produce the sort of fighting force essential to defend this nation. Short of doing that, you’re just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as we become less and less ready to protect the nation.

mtice
mtice
1 year ago

Lower standards, reinstitute the draft????? It all starts at the top. I am a strong supporter of the military, but I would never recommend anyone to join now under this Commander in Chief. The only thing that will fix this is replacing the phony president with a patriotic real American. This would take care of all the wokeness in the upper ranks.

William Hodge
William Hodge
1 year ago

This is a national problem that deserves a national response. Bring back physical fitness to schools starting in 7th grade with the end result being the minimum requirements for pull ups, pushups and the mile run for the military branches by the 12th grade. Completely eliminate anything woke in schools and the military. Do away with anything to do with sex assignments in schools or the military. There are only 2 sexes, period. Bring back classes in gun safety and safe handling in schools. Bring back shooting teams to schools. Then if these proposals don’t work or even minimally work bring back the draft, for everyone to either serve in the military or national service for a specified period. If these proposals don’t work you better turn around because China and Russia is going to kick you in the nuts.

John Paulson
John Paulson
1 year ago

Agreeing with Uncle Bruce. What do you expect with the military going nuts off the charts to push wokeness, allowing gays, and some leadership that couldn’t even find the toilets to clean them. Why would anyone in their right mind want to join our armed forces now? I am a Vietnam Era veteran and I have told my grandkids to stay away forever or until major changes are made back to the way the military should operate-mission oriented and #1 job of defending our country and not social engineering, and NO shots of unproven and untested origins for Covid. Milley and Austin should both be impeached, along with a bunch of other so-called “leaders”. The train is going downhill and in the wrong direction. Cut me a break as well.

Voter Ann
Voter Ann
1 year ago

The “lowering of standards” approach has become the hallmark of this entire administration. How else does one explain a Director of Homeland Security who lies about the flood of illegal immigrants flooding America, a Transportation Secretary who ignores recurring disasters on the ground and in the air, and an Attorney General who ignores the Constitution and prosecutes patriotic Americans and parents? That approach is the result of a fraudulent election and a senile President, whose primary focus is the outright destruction of America. Even so, God is in control of it all. Those of us who have placed our trust and hope in His Son, Jesus, know that this world is not our home, and we can anticipate eternity with Him, despite the insanity that surrounds us each and every day.

Jerry
Jerry
1 year ago

Rip the wokeness out of our military root and branch, get rid of the out of the closet queers, get rid of the gender confused that is those who don’t know if they are a man or a woman and stop wasting our young warriors in senseless no win wars. Also get rid of the ticket puncher leaders. That would be a good start.

les mutchie
les mutchie
1 year ago

If they would leave the retirement and benefits alone they might attract a better crowd…. But have to screw with them ALL THE TIME. And there isn’t any “military retirement” anymore….

Smike
Smike
1 year ago

Why join the military? I joined the Air Force after high school graduation (1967), I was 17. I was a jock with marginal but passing grades and no police record. I had no plans for a career or future. The choices at the time were; Join, get drafted or take a student loan and go to college. A lot of kids took the student loans and went to college to avoid the draft. So, I’m not very big on student loan forgiveness. My incentive to enlist came from my high school career counselor. He convinced me that taking control of my future was better than letting someone else waste it. So, I selected the Air Force as my best option to make something of myself. I became an Air Traffic Controller. After my tour I got out and worked for the FAA; OMA, STL, DFW as an Air Traffic Controller. The military has a lot to offer a kid who hasn’t a clue as to what he wants to do with his life. It gives him life experiences, lets him grow up and mature and gives him a chance to discover what he wants to do with his life – and it provides the GI Bill to let him go to college to become what he wants to be. Why wouldn’t you want to join the military….

Jay
Jay
1 year ago

concerning the report for lack of troops being hired. Instead of sending behaviour related problems and minor offenses boys 17 and older to jail. they should be offered jail or military service. like they did back in the 60’s. Since women want equal rights, they to should be given the same offer.

let the military have the power to shape up the young men and women. obey or off to the lockup.
no more you cannot tell me what to do I have my rights.

John B
John B
1 year ago

While I will admit that in 1970 when I won the lottery and was drafted, I wasn’t all that happy. However I was dumb to such things at the time. In the end it was one of the best life experiences any young man could have happen to them. Of course at that time, it was the “real” military and boys were made men, in a short period of time. I vote for ALL able bodied and sane young men and women to serve our Country in some capacity. Then they can seek higher education if that suits there goals. The USA was a stronger Country at that time. In addition, remove lobbying by the armament suppliers for the politicians to engage our Country in “actions” outside the USA, that suit their manipulated profits.

Barbie
Barbie
1 year ago

When you see the men that are suppose to be protecting our country wearing dresses and lipstick puts a bad mark on our military.

Keith Townsend
Keith Townsend
1 year ago

High qualified veterans to be able to be trained to maintain homeside shore positions to cover for the deployment of Armed Force Members in all forces. Supplies, Hospitals, Dental, Services on part time basis. Rehired Veterans can also work at Sea or at base camps. Age and healthy makes a difference, but a lot of Veterans still are able to serve and make a difference.

Randy
Randy
1 year ago

Start teaching love of country again in schools and that will help young Americans be ready to make the heartfelt decision to serve.

Jerry White
Jerry White
1 year ago

How would anyone in their right mind serve under the current administration, I’m a veteran and proud of it but would NOT join as Brandon (biden) is commander in chief

Fred Orestuk
Fred Orestuk
1 year ago

Very Simple solution, reenact the draft, including all the woke females !

Gil
Gil
1 year ago

The politicians keep chewing up kids in a combat zone for 20 years with no chance of winning the fight, then start whining like vegans forced to eat beefsteak! And still they don’t get it. We no longer have real warriors leading our military; we have careerists kissing butts to make the next rung on the ladder. One thing is for sure…mothers in this country gave their healthy boys and girls to the military and got back broken men and women…if they came home at all. And for what?

Glen
Glen
1 year ago

Considering that they would be put under a Commander in Chief and organization who want to use them for social experimentation and force them to take poisonous gene therapies masquerading as “vaccines” that could greatly shorten or end their existence, you can not blame them for not volunteering. On top of that, the crazies in D.C. are so bent on depopulating the world that they are pushing to start World War III. We can’t even be sure who the good guys and bad guys are. Why would someone want to sign up to die “for their country” when your country is proving to be so corrupt?

Lee Bitdwell
Lee Bitdwell
1 year ago

I hate to stare the obvious, but the vast majority of our youth do not want to be part of social engineering. I never would have tolerated having a bunch of transgender or homosexual soldiers around me that I would be forced to recognize as wonderful and natural. We had gays and cross-dressers in the military long before Clinton’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell idiocy. They did their job and carried their weight and then did what they wished when off duty. Now, the failed general grade officers want to make that sort of thing the norm. Most of American youth do not wish to deal with it, nor do they wish to be punished for mis-gendering someone.

SGM Joe
SGM Joe
1 year ago

I’m getting ready to retire after 40 years. I have never felt less confident in the upper leadership off the military. There had been degradation for years, but rapidly accelerated on an exponential curve.I could get behind Trump as commander in chief. I am sorry he didn’t clean up some of the traitorous to brass before he left.The “death dart” mandates added to the mess. Rolling Stone reports >80 mysterious medical deaths of Soldiers in the past 18 months and whistleblowers get court -marshaled.I have had a decent career. I’m not optimistic about the future unless there is a dramatic shift

Rick
Rick
1 year ago

The type of men and women who are willing to defend this country are not into the
woke B.S. that is being promoted in today’s military.

TMarie
TMarie
1 year ago

We have family members who have listed and they love the USA. ????????

Praying these brave Soldiers will see the Greatness of our freedoms that they have enlisted to protect!

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

What do you expect when LOSER
WOKE is forced into the military.
LOSER WOKE won’t win wars. It only creates LOSERS to LOSE.
ALL Joint Chiefs of Staff should be Court Martial for permitting LOSER WOKE since it is an Act of Treason by Destroying the U.S. Military from within.

Cap'n Bob
Cap'n Bob
1 year ago

Biden has gutted the true combat leadership in the military and it’s obvious to those young men and women who are true patriots and would make exceptional soldiers, sailors, airmen,and marines Until America returns to strong and faithful civilian and uniformed leadership recruiting will continue to decline.

Mare
Mare
1 year ago

Woke???
Vaccine Mandate???

WAKE UP AMERICA ????????????????????????????

John
John
1 year ago

I served from 87-99 in the Army Military Police. I don’t agree with new woke mandates, but if u need me I’m in! God bless what’s left of the USA.

Anna
Anna
1 year ago

End this woke, equity, inclusion “agenda”. Get rid of weak and pathetic military leaders especially effeminate generals. Promote American greatness and service to the nation. Properly teach American history and the Constitution so High School students gain a true understanding of America and love what it stands for. Until then, our country will be weak and vulnerable to attacks and wars of all kinds, including kinetic battles.

A Voter
A Voter
1 year ago

I served 7 years in the military back in the 80’s. You couldn’t offer me enough money to join such a woke mamby pamby organization as out military is today. I feel sorry for the grunts, it isn’t their fault. It is the generals who need to be thrown out of the military and tried for treason.

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

AFTER THE CANCEROUS, ANTI-AMERICAN, LYING, CHEATING libs DESTROYED OUR ONCE GRA 8 NATION, WHO WANTS 2 FITE 4 IT ??????

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SERVING OUR NATION !!!!!!! IF I SEE A VET WEARING A ”VETERAN” HAT, I ALWAYS THANK HIM AND HER. MOST TELL ME THAT I WAS THE ONLY NON FAMILY MEMEBER TO SAY THAT TO THEM

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