U.S. Military Recruitment Down

The United States military is having its least fruitful recruitment year in half a century. The U.S. Army Recruiting Command says it faces its “most challenging labor market since the inception of the all-volunteer force,” falling 25% short of its 2022 recruitment goals. The Department of Defense claims only 23% of Americans aged 17–24 are even eligible for military service, and only 9% of them show an inclination to serve.

While numerous sources rank the University of North Georgia first among the six senior military colleges in America, cadets make up less than 10% of the student body. UNG cadet and sophomore Arabic major Benjamin Anderson says he joined the corps to “serve [his] country and get a degree,” but believes that about 20% of corps members don’t plan on spending time in the military and just want an education at an affordable cost.

Anderson says he thinks the desire of young people to live in service of their community is waning and believes “people are losing the urge to serve because they’re losing a sense of patriotism,” contrasting the political climate of today to the climate after 9/11.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz tweeted that the military has become too “woke and emasculated.” On his talk show, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson repeatedly echoes this sentiment, joking that “the Pentagon is now the Yale faculty lounge but with cruise missiles.” Carlson and other right-wing pundits believe that new diversity and inclusion initiatives are responsible for the youth’s decreasing faith in the armed forces, but maybe their issue is more foundational than a distaste for sensitivity training or a general apathy for national security.

According to polling data from the Ronald Reagan Foundation, trust in the military, which was at 70% in 2018, dropped to 45% in only three years.

Andrew Gilkinson is a sophomore digital arts major at UNG, and he says he cannot support America in its armed conflicts around the globe because he does not believe they are just. He says the “idea of an honorable death in service is flawed” and comes from “the glorification of war in media and propaganda.”

Gilkinson says he thinks the driving factor for America in times of conflict is “Money.”