America is in Danger Due to Decline in Military Volunteers

The all-volunteer force (AVF) of the American military is deteriorating. The AVF delivered the elite force it pledged in the five decades following conscription being abolished.

The highly skilled, competent, and determined American troops won every combat. They controlled the field of battle.

Military Forces Have Hard Time Recruiting

Now, more than ever, military forces are having difficulty attracting new members. The Army is the most affected; a shortfall of up to 15,000 soldiers is anticipated, and a larger deficit is anticipated for the following year.

Numerous factors are cited by experts, including inadequate salary and benefits, a challenging work-life balance, “culture war” concerns, COVID-19, and a competitive labor market.

The fundamental problems that are contributing to the AVF’s deterioration won’t be resolved even if they were “fixed.”

The number of qualified and motivated Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 is actually declining. 71% of these 34 million young adults could not enter the military while I was secretary of the Army in 2018.

This is primarily because of being overweight, drug abuse, physical and mental health issues, and criminal activity. Four years later, that figure has increased.

Another 10% of the 23% who are currently capable of serving do not achieve the academic requirements of the military. Even worse, only 9% (or 320,000) of the 3.5 million available young Americans show a propensity to serve.

A country with 332 million citizens ought to perform better than that.

Decline in Volunteers is a National Crisis

The Pentagon cannot reverse these trends because of their size and scope. The services could and are taking some steps, but these only deal with the peripheral aspects of the issue.

This is a national issue that must be dealt with at the highest possible level since this military’s capability to protect the nation directly rests on a sizeable number of excellent volunteers.

To change the underlying tendencies, the White House and Congress must cooperate by establishing a bipartisan panel of recognized individuals.

This time, the new panel’s goal would be to preserve the AVF. To increase the number of young people who are eligible to serve and increase their enthusiasm in doing so, commissioners must concentrate on these two main challenges.

The commission should consider ways to enhance youth health and wellness, examine and revise qualifying conditions, and expand JROTC nationally.

The commission also must develop new opportunities for civilian populations to interact with their military compatriots, dispel myths about military life, and guarantee recruiters unrestricted access to high schools across the country for purposes that also go beyond the needs of the military.

The Pentagon must avoid decreasing standards, shrinking the force, or designing ineffective battle formations in the interim. Instead of cutting corners, we must muster the force required to win our country’s battles.

The president and Congress, collaborating with governors as necessary, must likewise educate and motivate our kids. They could also ask athletes, entertainers, and other role models who have influence over young people in America for help.

Being healthy, being active, staying out of trouble, and thinking about volunteering for your nation in uniform would be a good place to start. We cannot jeopardize our future by neglecting these problems in light of the mounting challenges from China and other countries.

A return to conscription isn’t the answer; the majority of remedies will take years to show results.

Whereas if we want to prevent war and win if it breaks out, we’ll need to keep a strong, elite volunteer army on hand. In order to educate and motivate the upcoming great American generation to serve, leaders must take immediate action.