|Lt. Gen Xavier Brunson (source)|
Recruitment numbers for the Army are at historic lows as Americans are either too fat or criminal to join the defend the country, an Army general warned.
Lt. Gen Xavier Brunson, the commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, theorized as to why recruitment is so low following a July statement from the Army that announced it wouldn't meet its 485,000 recruitment goal for 2022, falling short by a staggering 20,000 recruits.Officers across the country are failing to meet recruitment numbers as fewer youth are qualified to serve, which some blame on the COVID-19 pandemic.'Some of the challenges we have are obesity, we have pre-existing medical conditions, we have behavioral health problems, we have criminality, people with felonies, and we have drug use,' Brunson told Spokesman Review.'This is not an Army problem, this is an American Problem.'To increase recruitment numbers, the Army plans to 'lower the gates' and find new ways to appeal to the armed services to youth, especially amid a the lowest deficit since after the Vietnam War, according to the New York Times.'Only 23% of the people that are of age to serve are actually qualified,' Brunson said.'This is now a condition. This is not an Army problem, so nationally what we have to look at is what's going on with our youth.'
The article also reports:
The announcement of fewer recruits also comes after thousands of unvaccinated Army National Guard and Army reserve soldiers were expected to be barred from performing their military duties after refusing to get the COVID-19 jab.
As of July, there were about 40,000 National Guard soldiers and 22,000 Reserve soldiers how have not been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 soldiers requested either a medical or religious exemption with only 61 being permanently approved and 17,046 temporary approved as of August, according to the US Army. About 16,000 soldiers continue to refuse the jab.
The military branch has raised the stakes for soldiers and promised to go one further and discharge personnel if they continue to resist immunization. Soldiers were required to be vaccinated by July 1.
'Soldiers who refuse the vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption request are subject to adverse administrative actions, including flags, bars to service, and official reprimands,' an Army representative said in July.
'In the future, soldiers who continue to refuse the vaccination order without an exemption may be subject to additional adverse administrative action, including separation.'
Unmentioned are any references to the military's inclusion and diversity efforts (i.e., going woke). Yet several articles believe this has played a role in the recruitment crises. A Wall Street Journal article, "What If They Gave A War And Everybody Was Woke" delves into this issue. From the article (via Techregister):
Is the U.S. prepared for battle? By one measure, military recruitment, the answer appears to be no. Nearly every branch has struggled to meet its recruitment goals for 2022, with some falling as short as 40%. Worse yet, only about a quarter of America’s youth meet current eligibility standards—and recent surveys show only 9% are even interested.
Military leadership primarily blames this slump on two causes: teen obesity rates and the tight labor market. But data for both claims can’t paint the full picture. Teen obesity did increase during the pandemic, to 22% from 19%. But that jump likely can’t account for the sudden and widespread collapse in recruitment. Neither can the labor market. The unemployment rate today sits at 3.6%—roughly the same as in 2019. Yet in 2019 the Army exceeded its recruiting goals. It’s falling perilously short today and will be understrength by 28,000 troops by the end of 2023. The military’s benefits—including child care, housing allowances, medical coverage and large bonuses, up to $50,000—should also help insulate it from the pitfalls of hiring young recruits in a tight labor market.
What, then, explains the shift? Perhaps one answer lies in the Pentagon’s wholesale embrace of woke politics.
On his first day in office, President Biden rescinded a Trump-era executive order banning critical-race-theory training in the military. The changes made by senior commanders were nearly immediate. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mandated that every military unit conduct a “stand-down” to confront “extremism in the ranks.” The chief of naval operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, added Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist” to his professional reading list for sailors—never mind the book’s endorsement of racial discrimination and its charges that the institutions troops swear to protect are systemically racist.
Added to the mix has been divisive gender activism. The Navy has mandated gender-sensitivity training, and released a video encouraging sailors to closely police the use of pronouns as well as everyday language, declaring that those who fail to comply aren’t “allies” of their fellow sailors. Not only have such measures affected unit morale, according to some service members, they’ve also amounted to a form of antirecruitment for prospective enlistees. The Pentagon is appealing to activists at the expense of those most likely to serve.
The military has historically drawn an outsize proportion of recruits from conservative Southern states. During the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom, nearly 40% of its enlistees were from the South. That’s still true. South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Georgia each contribute more than 30%—some as high as 50%—of their share of America’s 18- to 24-year-old population to military service. Unsurprisingly, military members privately skew conservative. In the 2018 midterm elections, nearly 45% of service members surveyed indicated they would back Republican candidates, versus 28% who favored Democrats. Support for Republicans among veterans was similarly strong in 2020.
Military recruitment relies on another factor: family tradition. As of 2017, one in four military recruits had a parent who had served, and almost 80% who had at least one family member presently enlisted. The military’s sudden shift is functioning as a repellent here, too. Families with rich traditions of military service are increasingly not encouraging their sons and daughters to follow in their footsteps. Why? For some, the military’s support for these divisive policies has harmed their view of the profession.
Recent polls lend support to the idea that disaffection with the military is growing among conservatives. The 2021 Reagan Institute National Defense Survey found that since 2019 those who have “a great deal” of confidence in the military fell from 70% to 45%, with the largest decline—34 points—occurring among Republicans. The most common reason offered by respondents was concern about “political leadership.” In a separate poll this month, Gallup found that conservatives’ trust in the military fell by 10 points over the past year. A similar trend held for independents, whose confidence in the military fell by 8 points.
Let’s examine the most controversial and politically charged reason why recruiting is plummeting for the Army, and that’s the charge of “wokeism.” Now, before I go any further, it’s necessary to explain a critical perspective of this topic. It doesn’t matter what you, the reader, think, or what I, the author of this column, think about “being woke” or being “politically correct.” What does matter is that a large number of people in the country think “being woke” in the Army is something tangible and perceivable, and when those parents, relatives, or friends say to a high school junior or senior that they shouldn’t join because they will experience all the wokeism they can handle, all the time, and that’s not good, well, there’s a big strike because the Army and DoD writ large have not developed a decent counter-narrative. This is getting a ton of press, as you can read here and here and here. If that’s not enough, here’s two more articles for your reading leisure. Like some odd cottage industry, it seems an article a day gets published on how woke the Army is, and how bad the effects are upon the Army. Where’s the counter-riposte from the Army Public Affairs Office, or the Chief of Staff of the Army, or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, an Army officer? Nothing. Zippo. Silence. Unacceptable or simply incapable of a decent response? Either way, it doesn’t matter because the damage has been done.
Let’s examine a second self-inflicted wound which is causing absolutely immense damage to recruiting efforts, and that is Medical Health System Genesis, or MHS Genesis for short. So what is MHS Genesis, one might ask? One might look at this website and read the short blurb about how it is an electronic medical record system, but that wouldn’t be anywhere close to suffice. This gem of a system was awarded to Leidos Partnership for Defense Health (LPDH for the acronym nerds) in 2015 for a cool 4.3 billion US dollars. By 2019, enough concerns had emerged that the Congressional Research Service wrote a decently long paper about it, and you can read that here. But it still doesn’t broach what the major issue is with the system and how it affects recruiting. In fact, I didn’t even find out about this until March 2022, when a close friend who is an Infantry Brigade Commander in the Army National Guard told me about this system and how it was destroying recruiting. Apparently, this system allows for the retrieval of childhood and adolescent medical AND pharmacy records, and wouldn’t you know, the list of ailments, illnesses and medications precluding people from joining the military is pretty darn long. In fact, it’s so long that if you used any sort of anti-depressant medication, or perhaps had childhood asthma and needed an inhaler for a while, or perhaps your son was diagnosed with ADHD and need Ritalin for bit because the public school experience bored him out of his skull, well guess what, that’s all available now for the recruiters. In addition, the sawbones at your local Military Entry Processing Stations (MEPS for the acronym dorks) can now see all of that in its glory, and they have no compunction about telling a recruit they aren’t shipping out to Fort Benning, Fort Sill or Fort Jackson for basic training. What’s interesting about this is that is has literally received no press, and one has to wander the dark halls of Reddit, or military message boards or chat rooms to get the real deal from recruiters who are nowhere close to meeting their monthly quotas. Have a gander at this sub-Reddit thread to get a better understanding of the problem. Again, this is credentialism run amok, as the disqualification list is really large and it’s not readily available, and besides, the common refrain of “you can get a waiver!” will be heard ad nauseum. I will address some changes that could be easily made with medical issues in the next column.
In a subsequent article, "The Personnel Crisis Has Arrived, Part 5: Forging a Better Future," he adds:
First and foremost, the Army leadership has to scrap MHS Genesis as a mechanism for diving into adolescent and youth medical and pharmacy records. One reader pointed out that this is necessary because the DoD will save money in the long term by just disqualifying them immediately. Well, that’s true, but it is also irrelevant, as the old saw goes. I cannot say this strongly enough: THERE IS NO MASSIVE INEXHAUSTABLE POOL OF WILLING PERSONNEL LINING TO JOIN THE US MILITARY RIGHT NOW OR FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE. Ok, I feel better now that’s off the medulla oblongata. Tied to the MHS Genesis debacle is the gigantic list of medical conditions and medications that will preclude an individual from joining the Army or any military service. A real reformation is needed here, because that tired line of “Only 23/25/27/30 % of American youth are eligible to join” is largely due to a slew of medical conditions that were either temporary during youth, or have been treated successfully and not returned. All of this is a self-inflicted wound, and it’s all driven by the rampant credentialism and desire to lower personnel costs. Two easy fixes are to build a lot more leeway into medical entry standards around childhood asthma, mental health, and AD/HD conditions experienced during adolescence or teenage years. The fact is that doctors in this country tend to go for the prescription pad early when dealing with mental health and AD/HD conditions. There’s nothing the Army can do about that, it’s not like the Chief of Staff can go onto the Today Show and ask the nation’s doctors to stop prescribing medications. Since that’s off the table, adding a great deal more leeway into these conditions, and a lot of others should be examined, reviewed, reformed, and enacted with some real pace. Finally, the COVID-19 vaccination refusals should be seriously re-examined, and some sort of compromise needs to occur between the refusniks and the DoD. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve cannot simply lose up to 60,000 personnel over this issue, it is not just a threat to those organizations, it is a real threat to the depth, stability, and safety of the nation.
So maybe, just maybe, the military leadership is to blame for the recruitment crises.
And what is the solution? Well, to the woke crowd, the answer is obvious: "Want to Solve America’s Recruiting Crisis? Recruit Foreigners." Because using foreign mercenaries has worked out so well in the past for the countries that have employed them.