The US military ended Fiscal Year 2023 on September 30 with nearly every branch reporting large lapses in their recruiting efforts.

(U.S. Army photo by Jazika Levario)

Missing Soldiers and Sailors
Navy: 7,450 missing enlisted sailors
Army: 11,000 missing enlisted soldiers
Air Force: 2,777 missing enlisted airmen
Space Force: 65 more than goal of 537
Marines: 351 more than goal of 39,153

Their failures to lure people into the military are despite numerous new efforts. The Navy has reduced their standards for performance on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, claiming that it wouldn’t make the service weaker. They also have stopped kicking out people who can’t get promoted.

The Army is putting a Lieutenant General in charge of a supposedly more professional team of recruiters and has created the Future Soldier Prep Course in an attempt to get potential recruits to shed weight and/or smarten up enough to pass the ASVAB.

The reasons young people aren’t signing up include the higher pay and better benefits skilled youth can obtain in the civilian market and ineligibility due to having tattoos or being obese or failing the ASVAB. Plus, standards against use of marijuana or having prior medical conditions are seen as farcical by potential recruits. Air Force Lt. Gen. Caroline Miller said that only 1 in 11 people in Gen Z have a “propensity to serve.”

Panic seems to be setting in for some who are paying attention to these failures. The Heritage Foundation’s Thomas Spoehr used words like “death spiral” and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth has admitted that “we have not been recruiting very well for many more years than one would think.”

Projections for the new fiscal year (ending September 2024) haven’t been made public yet. But it seems that the military hasn’t learned from their experience. The Navy, already short by nearly 7,500 sailors, thinks it is going to convince even more to join with a recruiting goal that has gone up 2,900 from 37,700 to 40,600. The Army seems to be more realistic. After being 15,000 soldiers short in FY 2022 and 10,000 in FY 2023, Christine Wormuth said that the Army would “settle on something lower than 65,000 for 2024” as their unannounced goal. Similarly, the Air Force has lowered their goal from 26,877 to 25,900 airmen.