04/12/2023 strategic-culture.su  5 min 🇬🇧 #238534

The Us. Military's Alleged Recruiting Crisis Isn't the Problem

America Must Reignite Its Distrust of Large Standing Militaries


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America Must Reignite Its Distrust of Large Standing Militaries

A  recent article by Major General (ret.) Dennis Laich and Colonel (ret.) Lawrence Wilkerson notes a crisis in military recruitment in America. Here's how their article begins:

The U.S. military's all-volunteer force (AVF) model is an abject failure. Last year, the active Army fell 15,000 recruits short of its goal. This year, it was 10,000, and the Army Reserve fell 40% short of its goal. This year, the active Navy fell 7,000 short, and the Navy Reserve was 33% short. Finally, the active Air Force fell 3,000 recruits short, and the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard each fell 30% short of their goals.

There is no reason to believe these trends won't continue, and even less reason to believe they will not get worse. In the past 10 years, the propensity to serve has  fallen from 15% to 9%, and the portion of the recruiting-age population qualified to serve has  dropped from 30 % to 23%. The number of children 5 and under in the United States is  12% smaller than the 15- to 25-year-old cohort, presenting a grim demographic reality.

Our national security crisis is part of a broader civic rot that plagues our democracy. Ultimately, the AVF's failure could lead to war if the U.S. appears weak to a potential adversary.

Laich and Wilkerson would like to see a return of a lottery-based military draft for young men and women in America. I respect these men; we are part of the same organization, the Eisenhower Media Network. Yet I see this issue in a different light.

In essence, young Americans are voting with their feet by not joining the military in the numbers the AVF desires. This is not a bad thing. The U.S. military, if it was focused truly on national defense, would and should be considerably smaller. What enlarges our military (and its recruitment quotas) is imperial sprawl. Does the U.S. truly need to garrison roughly 800 military bases overseas? Does the U.S. Army truly need big brigades and battalions to fight conventional wars in Asia? Why does the Air Force need so many people? Why must the Navy have so many ships? Why do we need a growing Space Force?

I don't see America appearing "weak" to potential adversaries. If anything, potential adversaries look at the U.S. as an overly strong and often unpredictable bully. Every country in the world knows the U.S. puts its military first, that the U.S. is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons in war, that the U.S. never met a war it didn't like, even though it hasn't won a major war since World War II. Military weakness is not a problem America is ever likely to have. Even when the empire eventually collapses, the military will still be the last American institution that will be fully funded. (Indeed, huge sums of money spent on the military is contributing to that collapse.)

We don't need a revival of the draft. We need a revival of sanity. We need a foreign policy in which we mind our own business. In which we don't dispatch military forces to every hotspot in the world. In which we don't pummel other countries into submission, as we attempted to do with countries like Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. (The death of Henry Kissinger the Pummeler at age 100 shows that only the good die young.)

A smaller military might mean fewer foreign entanglements for America as well as far less global destruction (think of Southeast Asia as well as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and so on). That wouldn't be a bad thing.

Of course, the U.S. military's answer to its alleged recruiting crisis is to hire an expensive advertising agency, giving it  more than $450 million in taxpayer money to craft new ways of enticing young Americans to join the AVF. It just goes to show how much money the Pentagon has to throw (or throw away) at perceived problems.

If America faced a true and immediate threat (a clear and present danger, as the saying goes) to its national security, I don't doubt young Americans would step up. But I see no foreign enemy seeking the military conquest of Topeka or Tampa or Tucson, nor do I see a pressing need for a super-sized military that still retains a Cold War mentality of full-spectrum dominance against the Reds (China and Russia remain the bogeymen for most in the U.S. military and Congress as well.)

As one major general once told me, less money for the U.S. military, along with fewer troops, might have the salutary effect of forcing the brass to think for once before invading another country or threatening yet another war. Wouldn't that be something.

Throughout most of our history, America had a profound distrust of large standing militaries and the mayhem and mischief they so often cause. It's time to reignite that distrust.

 The U.S. Military's Alleged Recruiting Crisis Isn't the Problem - Bracing Views