From NBC News:
With a record low number of Americans eligible to serve, and few of those willing to do it, this “is the year we question the sustainability of the all-volunteer force,” said an expert.
June 27, 2022, 1:30 AM PDT
By Courtney Kube and Molly Boigon
Every branch of the U.S. military is struggling to meet its fiscal year 2022 recruiting goals, say multiple U.S. military and defense officials, and numbers obtained by NBC News show both a record low percentage of young Americans eligible to serve and an even tinier fraction willing to consider it. …
The pool of those eligible to join the military continues to shrink, with more young men and women than ever disqualified for obesity, drug use or criminal records. Last month, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville testified before Congress that only 23% of Americans ages 17-24 are qualified to serve without a waiver to join, down from 29% in recent years.
An internal Defense Department survey obtained by NBC News found that only 9% of those young Americans eligible to serve in the military had any inclination to do so, the lowest number since 2007.
And that probably doesn’t yet include much of the upcoming effect of the Russia-Ukraine war on attitudes toward enlistment, but a 21st Century land war in Europe doesn’t look fun at all. Modern precision weapons don’t miss often enough to give combatants a fighting chance of surviving the war. There are probably some Armenians in the U.S. who knew that already a couple of years ago …
I’m reading William Makepeace Thackeray’s highly entertaining 1840s bestseller “Vanity Fair,” in which many of the male characters are British Army officers in the run-up to the battle of Waterloo. They are all nervous over whether they’ll be brave, survive, and win, but on the other hand, the upcoming war turned out to be for most just one day of carnage and then it was over. The economy of 1815 couldn’t afford long battles.
The survey sheds light on how both Americans’ view of the military and the growing civilian-military divide may also be factors in slumping recruitment, and how public attitudes could cause recruiting struggles for years to come.
More than half of the young Americans who answered the survey — about 57% — think they would have emotional or psychological problems after serving in the military.
Americans are raised to be fragile these days.
Nearly half think they would have physical problems.
“They think they’re going to be physically or emotionally broken after serving,” said one senior U.S. military official familiar with the recruiting issues, who believes a lack of familiarity with military service contributes to that perception.
Among Americans surveyed by the Pentagon who were in the target age range for recruiting, only 13% had parents who had served in the military, down from approximately 40% in 1995. The military considers parents one of the biggest influencers for service.
… Overall confidence in U.S. government institutions is also decreasing, and that has hit the U.S. military as well. In 2021 the annual Reagan National Defense Survey, conducted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, found that just 45% of Americans had a great deal of trust and confidence in the military, down 25 points since 2018.