February 15, 2023

Army Denies Wokeness Hurts Recruiting

Our smarmy Army pencil-pushers keep denying the undeniable.

The once-proud U.S. Army, producer of heroes from Alvin York to Audie Murphy, can’t get young men and women to sign up for the gig these days. Can’t get them to raise their right hands and take that awesome Oath of Enlistment.

It’s quite a crisis, given that the Army hasn’t missed its recruitment goals since 2005. That was at the height of the Iraq war, when our men were fighting a deadly, asymmetric insurgency whose primary weapon wasn’t the rifleman but the terrifying and life-altering EFP. (If you want to know what life was like for our warriors in the mid-2000s, when Qasem Soleimani’s Iranian Quds force was salting the cities and towns of Iraq with explosively formed penetrators, read David Finkel’s grim and moving The Good Soldier.)

So what gives today? If getting blown up by an unseen enemy caused our young people to think twice about military service while we were at war, what’s their excuse today, while we’re at peace? Why can’t the Army hit its recruitment numbers?

It’s complicated, they say. But most of all, it’s not wokeness. Nope, no siree. It’s got nothing to do with the Army’s decision to pay for the sex-change operations of its warriors; nothing to do with its obsessive focus on rooting out those 17 elusive white supremacists. Nope, it’s complicated.

As the Associated Press reports: “While some Republicans blame the COVID-19 vaccine or ‘wokeness’ for the Army’s recruiting woes, the military service says the bigger hurdles are more traditional ones: Young people don’t want to die or get injured, deal with the stress of Army life and put their lives on hold. They ‘just don’t see the Army as something that’s relevant,’ said Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, head of Army marketing. ‘They see us as revered, but not relevant, in their lives.’”

Right. Take it from the Army’s director of marketing — the guy whose job it is to sell the Army to potential recruits, and who’s clearly failing to do so.

Instead, the Army would do well to listen to Thomas Spoehr, a retired lieutenant general who’s given plenty of thought to this issue and, unlike Fink, is no longer beholden to the Pentagon. Spoehr says that woke ideology undermines cohesiveness and military readiness in various ways, from race to ethnicity to sex. In addition, he says:

Wokeness in the military also affects relations between the military and society at large. It acts as a disincentive for many young Americans in terms of enlistment. And it undermines wholehearted support for the military by a significant portion of the American public at a time when it is needed the most.

This undermining of support for the military goes hand in hand with the undermining of our nation more generally. Instead of young people learning to love and take pride in their country, they’re being taught to hate and denounce it. They’re being taught that it was built by slaves and is irredeemably racist.

Who among us would want to take up arms and risk our lives to defend a country that made us feel ashamed or embarrassed? As one trenchant observer of national security matters has suggested, “Maybe it’s better having a country that inspires patriots to defend it, rather than one that makes them want to throw up.”

Despite the setback, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth says they’ve set a “stretch” goal for this year: to bring in 65,000 new recruits in 2023, which would be 20,000 more than in 2022. We wish her well.

Oh, but the Army insists it’s now done the market research into why young people aren’t signing up. As the AP continues: “Those surveys were conducted over four months last spring and summer. … The Army discussed the general findings with The Associated Press but declined to provide detailed methodology, saying the surveys were done by a private research contractor and that licensing agreements limited the public release of some data collection details.”

Translation: They’re lying. This is the U.S. Army. And they’re afraid to show the American people their work. Instead, they want us to believe that young “simply do not see the Army as a safe place or good career path, and believe they would have to put their lives and careers on hold if they enlisted” — as if putting one’s life and career on hold is something that past recruits had never considered.

We’ll just have to take their word for it. But, no, it’s not wokeness. In fact, as the Army gamely insists: “Very few say they are deterred from enlisting due to ‘wokeness.’ In fact, concerns about discrimination against women and minorities is seen as a bigger issue, along with a more general distrust of the military.”

Apparently, then, it’s not that the Army is too woke. It’s that the Army isn’t woke enough.

Who ya gonna believe — the Army’s progressive pencil-pushers, or your lyin’ eyes?

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