An interesting article in Army Times on September 15 provided insights into reasons that the services are struggling (to put it mildly) to hit troop strength targets this year.
On the input side, the numbers of high school graduates who contact recruiters with interest has remained steady at 110k per year, but the numbers who are disqualified in initial 48 hour background screening have jumped from historical 30-40% rejection rates to 70% in 2022 due to low test scores, obesity, drug use, and delinquency records.
On the back end, overachievement in 2021 retention masked the drop-off in recruitment, but retention has fallen off in 2022 for a variety of reasons, although the article does not mention vaccine mandates or investigations of “wrong think”.
Parent’s attitudes about military service have also turned increasingly negative, as media coverage of controversies is not balanced by stories that convey the benefits of military service, benefits that carry forward into civilian life. Fewer and fewer extended families have a member in the military of live near a military base.
Only 5% of high schools offer JROTC programs, which provide an important avenue of self-development and “right path” that is increasingly lacking as broken homes have increased and church attendance has decreased in recent generations, scouting has fallen into disfavor, and vocational education had been eliminated.
The Army will end the fiscal year with more than 10k open unfilled positions, just as employers in other sectors are unable to fill their open positions with qualified candidates – has anyone else connected those dots yet? The implications of the recruiting crisis for military readiness are obvious, but the downstream ramifications need to be pointed out.
In a survey of CEOs taken a few years ago, the most common undergraduate and graduate degrees were identified as was the first full-time job, and military service was among the most cited. A separate study of billionaires found similar commonalities. The choices they made at 20 set the trajectory that opened up the topside at 60. Those who have served and those who have served the military community were not surprised by this.
The traits and skillsets and values developed in military service – character, discipline, teamwork, diversity, mission-orientation, unit cohesion, competence, a sense of duty beyond oneself – translate into business leadership and leadership in all other walks of civilian life. In my MBA classes, the military students stand out term after term.
A generation not suitable for military service will not be any more ready to enter the labor force or tackle the rigors of college. Dumbing it all down to make the bad numbers go away is not the answer, and the decision-makers who created this circumstance for Gen Z have a lot to answer for.
These kids are not Democrats or Republicans; they did not choose to be disadvantaged – that was done to them and we all know by whom. It is a tragedy of compounded error whose effects are just beginning to be recognized in proficiency scores, military recruiting, skyrocketing rates of mental health issues, and crime statistics.
The negative consequences of closing schools and socially isolating children and teens in their formative years will linger for decades.The MSM did not find the Army’s recruiting report newsworthy, although I can’t think of a more important matter of public interest than the controlled demolition of a generation in the name of Covid – the panic, not the disease.