How Military Service Lost Its Appeal
The landscape has shifted, our priorities are misplaced, and we’re turning off our next generation of warriors.
There was a time just a few short decades ago when those connected with the military believed the world was their oyster.
The Soviet Union had fallen without a (direct) shot, taking away an enemy we had wargamed against for decades. Our Armed Forces had amassed a series of quick and relatively easy victories in the previous few years: removing the communist government in Grenada, overthrowing a Panamanian dictator, and wresting Kuwait back from the clutches of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein in Operation Desert Storm. With its positive image, and with taglines like the Army’s “Be All You Can Be,” the military had little trouble finding recruits who were willing to sign up for a tour or make a career in the military thanks to its generous benefits package.
That all changed in the years after 9/11. While there was a surge in recruiting immediately after the attack, as time went on and the Long War became one of attrition — one in which our men were coming home with grievous injuries inflicted by an enemy that had taken to using improvised explosive devices rather than confronting us directly — there came a sense that the military wasn’t the best place to be. Rather than a gung-ho, kick-butt-and-take-names attitude, our troops were soon hamstrung by rules of engagement that often made them sitting ducks. Meanwhile, the media reinforced the anti-military message enough that recruiters were no longer welcomed in the high schools and colleges where they had traditionally made their pitch.
Today, we’re a bit flat-footed, as our priorities have shifted from a Global War on Terror primarily in the Middle East and South Asia to a prospective two-front conflict with both China and Russia. But at the moment the military most needs new recruits, the top brass are doing their best to repel them.
One case in point among many is the recent glorification by the Department of Defense of Major “Rachel” Jones, a man who “found solace [in the military] after coming out as a transgender female.” With Jones pictured holding two rainbow flags, the story seems more parody than reality. If only. “Her [sic] journey from battling depression & suicidal thoughts to embracing authenticity inspires us all,” tweeted the DOD, which might lead many potential recruits to ask just how that enhances the defense of freedom.
Here, we might also state the obvious: This sort of focus fails to strike fear in the hearts of our adversaries. Nor does it instill confidence in potential recruits that we’re serious about warfighting and serious about our national defense. After all, Major Jones is entrusted with our nation’s cybersecurity despite his depression, suicidal thoughts, and obvious gender dysphoria.
Add all these factors together, and it’s apparent why the very folks the military relies on for the bulk of new recruits — the “brats” who come from military families — are saying “No thanks” when it’s their turn to serve. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The children of military families make up the majority of new recruits in the U.S. military. That pipeline is now under threat, which is bad news for the Pentagon’s already acute recruitment problems, as well as America’s military readiness. “Influencers are not telling them to go into the military,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview. “Moms and dads, uncles, coaches and pastors don’t see it as a good choice.”
While Mullen’s statement is true, the influencers began working when the 9/11 attack began to fade from public consciousness. And despite the fact that there’s a time-tested pipeline for recruiting, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth thinks we should change tactics in “a recruiting overhaul so sweeping that Congress might need to pass legislation to enact all of it.”
The Journal adds: “Depending too much on military families could create a ‘warrior caste,’ Wormuth said. Her plans seek to draw in people who have no real connection to the military and to broaden the appeal of service.”
Yet the people who have “no real connection” to the military are the ones who are more likely to be disqualified because of factors such as being overweight, using drugs, or having a criminal record. This eliminates a stunning 77% of young people. And while that’s been a persistent problem — the number was 71% a decade ago — taking the emphasis off of children of military families, who are more likely to be a part of that remaining 23%, seems utterly foolish.
Sadly, that seems to be the attitude of Joe Biden’s Department of Defense. Instead of attracting and encouraging our next generation of warriors, it’s chosen Independence Day to highlight an obviously disturbed outlier within the ranks.
If this is the fruit of “diversity,” our Republic is in deep trouble.
Start a conversation using these share links: