GAO Finds Military Has No Plan for Ongoing Recruiting Crisis, the Real Question Is Do They Care?

Diversity Committee poses for a photo during the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month event

Military recruitment has hit lows not experienced since the end of the Vietnam War, even as America faces multiple national security challenges around the globe.

A Death Spiral

Defense Data for FY2023 show most military services are sucking swamp water.

Army: 69 percent of its goal
Navy: 60 percent of its goal.
Air Force: 87 percent of its goal.
Marine Corps: 100 percent of its goal.
Space Force: 100 percent of its goal.

This does not mean that, for instance, the Army is at 69 percent of its FY2023 goal. If that were the case with the fiscal year half finished, they’d be, in the words of my First Sergeant, “sh***ing in tall cotton.” The number means that they are at 69 percent of the number they need as of the date of the report to reach 100 percent on their mission by September 30. What you’re seeing is the leading edge of a bloodbath. Keep in mind that the only reason the Army is at 69 percent of its goal is to cut its end-strength from 476,000 in FY 2021 to 445,000 by the end of FY 2023. My colleague Bob Hoge covered the first glimmer of the coming disaster in Military Recruiting Numbers Lowest Since the Vietnam War.

By comparison, from FY 2019 through FY 2021, all military branches met their enlistment goals. It was in FY 2022 that the wheels started to come off, with the Army closing the year down 15,000 new soldiers or 25 percent of its target. All the other services met their goals.

Army Reserve: 58 percent of its goal.
Army National Guard: 90 percent of its goal.
Navy Reserve: 67 percent of its goal.
Air Force Reserve: 62 percent of its goal.
Air National Guard: 57 percent of its goal.
Marine Corps Reserve: 120 percent of its goal.

Deny Everything, Admit Nothing, Make Counteraccusations

Despite massive anecdotal evidence to the contrary — and I think that the evidence remains anecdotal by design because then the Defense Department doesn’t have to address it — the officials overseeing this conscious evisceration of the US military continue to blame young Americans rather than looking inside.

Only 9% of young people now show a propensity to serve, according to Defense Department polling data shared with ABC News. It’s the lowest number seen in 15 years.

Top reasons cited for not wanting to join are the possibility of injury or death, and fear of developing PTSD or other psychological problems.

But the pool of young people who meet the basic standards to enlist in the military is also shrinking.

Only 23% of Americans aged 17 to 24 are eligible to join without being granted a waiver. This is down from 29% in recent years, according to Pentagon data. Obesity and drug use are common disqualifying factors.

Out of Airspeed, Out of Altitude, Out of Ideas

The GAO has looked into the recruiting crisis and found that not only is the Pentagon failing, but it also doesn’t know why and may not even care.

GAO’s “national security snapshot” is just two pages, far shorter than most audits, but it summarizes other work by the watchdog that revealed three critical shortcomings in the Defense Department’s struggles to maintain a fully staffed military. GAO found the Pentagon:

  • “has not collected or tracked sufficient data to help support decisions related to its recruitment and retention efforts”
  • “does not have sufficient plans, goals, and strategies to guide its recruitment and retention efforts”
  • and “is not positioned to fully monitor the effectiveness of its recruitment and retention efforts.”

GAO Report on Active Duty Recruiting by streiff on Scribd

The 800-pound Gorilla Hiding Under the Sofa

The military in general, but the Army in particular, is fighting back hard against the narrative that it is the cultural rot within the Army that is deterring that network of veterans, in their roles as coaches, teachers, scout leaders, and fathers, from recommending a stint in the military to young men. Yes, I said it, men. So the Army commissioned a survey to back up their opinion.

Guiding the Army’s efforts are surveys intended to help pinpoint why young people dismiss the Army as a career.

Those surveys were conducted over four months last spring and summer. They involved about 600 respondents, ages 16 to 28, per month. 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.

Officials said that based on the surveys, young people 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.

Army leaders said 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.


When someone uses an in-house poll to prove a point that aligns with the statements of the organization’s leadership and says, “Trust me,” when asked for the methodology, you can start laughing at any time. The idea that more people said they are concerned about discrimination against women and minorities than about the same against white men is patently ridiculous.

The Fail Is Baked In

I’ve posted several times on the woes facing military recruiting. Their new recruiting campaign (New Army Advertising Campaign Won’t Succeed Because It Aims at a Young America That Does Not Exist) that replaced the disastrous “The Calling,” or “Heather Has Two Mommies,” campaign has run aground because the star actor Jonathan Majors was arrested for allegedly tuning up a girlfriend.

The military has flirted with opening the gates to high school dropouts, I cover why this is a bad idea in Army Backs off Enlisting High School Drop Outs but the Woke Cancer Killing Enlistments Remains Stronger Than Ever. There are also people convincing themselves that recruiting more women is the way for the military to dig its way out of the hole it finds itself in. I have my own views: Women In Combat: Making A Virtue Of Weakness Gets People Killed.

GAO Finds Military Has No Plan for Ongoing Recruiting Crisis, the Real Question Is Do They Care
Army colonel in “pup” fetish gear.

The fact is that the military has become a hostile work environment for straight, white, conservative males who have historically been the demographic most likely to enlist. The Air Force has said it has too many white pilots, and now it is wrestling with a shortage; see Unexpectedly, the USAF Finds Itself With a Critical Shortage of Pilots While It Says It Has Too Many White Officers. The Army tolerates homosexual fetish sex rings involving senior officers and their subordinates — Army Starts Sham Investigation Into Bondage Fetish Colonel and His Friends Because They Think You’re Stupid — and is shocked that is a turnoff to young men. The Secretary of the Army prioritizes solar power over training the Army to fight and win the first battle of the next war; Secretary of the Army Guarantees a Lot of Young Soldiers Will Die but Has the Right Thoughts and Feelings.

The Future Looks Bleak

Though the numbers brought in are important, they are just the canary-in-the-coal mine of what is going to happen. The immediate pressure will hit the training base, where units will be pressured to graduate everyone to make their goals. This will load the field force up with human detritus that would have been discharged during basic training only a year ago. That has a much deeper impact.

While everyone is focused on the close-in battle of recruiting, the real story will be in what is happening in retention. At the end of the Vietnam War, there was an exodus of noncommissioned officers because of the lack of discipline. This left a noncommissioned officer corps composed of a handful of men dedicated to the military and a lot of dregs who were unemployable. For example, in my first platoon, I had functionally illiterate sergeants.

When the double whammy of woke and degenerate corporate culture combines with subpar human material, you will start to see the exodus.

It will take generations to undo the damage that has been done…assuming it can ever be undone. The sad part is that you can’t get away from the feeling that everything is going according to plan.

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