Military recruitment is in a severe downturn, and hard times are coming. Reports suggest the Armed Forces is having serious problems when it comes to signing up competent soldiers. Nearly all branches are expected to miss their staffing goals in 2022. Even worse, many individuals who are interested in serving are not up to par academically, a weakness that can be traced to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Military Recruitment Is Set to Plummet
Almost all branches of the military are experiencing issues, but the Army is hardest hit. It is expected to fall short of its goals by as much as 25% in 2022. Furthermore, a mere 23% of 17-to-24-year-olds are eligible for enlistment. The Army is not planning to lower its educational standards, so in June it rejected a plan to rescind the high school education requirement. These worrisome developments have raised fears about how the Armed Forces will maintain its ranks.
The Daily Caller noted: “School shutdowns and remote learning policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 lowered Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) scores by as much as 9% according to preliminary data,” according to Army Headquarters spokesman SFC Anthony Hewitt.
The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a study that found remote learning as a result of coronavirus lockdowns lowered test scores among most American students. The percentage of passing math scores has dropped by an average of 14.2 points. English and liberal arts scores took a smaller hit, but significant nonetheless.
The academic issue is of particular concern because military personnel are increasingly using advanced technology. “What you want is a soldier who … is reasonably intelligent and can kick in doors and do push ups,” Col. (Ret.) Johnny W. Brooks told The Daily Caller. “And those kinds of kids have never come in large abundance anywhere.”
In response to declining test scores, the Army established a pilot prep course for those considering enlisting but fall below the minimum standards in academics and physical fitness. The 90-day program is intended to get recruits up to speed.
“It is regrettable that the Army has to do remedial education to make up for what is not being taught in schools,” Elaine Donnelly, executive director for the Center for Military Readiness, said in an email to The Daily Caller.
As stated previously, the Army is refusing to lower standards to make up for the deficit. Gen. James McConville, the branch’s chief of staff, told reporters: “What I don’t want to do, and we’ve done this historically, is lower standards and convince ourselves that’s the right thing to do.” He added: “We’re not going to achieve squat.”
More Enlistment Problems
However, other issues could be affecting military recruitment. American education has been fraught with other problems aside from the lockdowns. It has become apparent that, over the past few years, many public school districts are infusing far-leftist ideas into lessons presented to students, even the very young. Simply put, there seems to be a wholesale effort to indoctrinate students into progressive views on gender identity, sexuality, and race.
A foundational aspect of these teachings is that America is a hopelessly oppressive and bigoted nation. K-12 teachers, like college professors, are instructing that the United States has been fatally flawed from its inception. This is creating a generation of students who do not believe the nation is worth defending. After all, why would one put on a uniform and put one’s life on the line for an evil country that oppresses marginalized people?
On the other hand, people have observed the push to further wokify the military. Leadership is instituting practices informed by critical race theory and transgender ideology at all levels of the Armed Forces. It is possible that such notions are not fully embraced by some who might otherwise consider a career in the military.
Military recruitment is suffering for a myriad of reasons. Some in the Armed Forces are trying to address these issues, but it does not seem likely they can reverse this trend if changes are not made at the top echelons. Lowering standards is not a desirable solution; essential is a serious transformation in the country’s education system and in the military’s culture.