The United States Army admitted this week that it is struggling to recruit new soldiers to the service, and that it is reducing the size of the force by thousands of troops, making the Army the smallest it’s been since World War II.
“We’re facing, obviously, some challenging conditions in terms of our ability to recruit and attract talent,” Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo said at a press conference, blaming the “labor market” for the dwindling numbers. “What we’re just seeing is given the particular conditions of a very tight labor market, our ability to meet all of our projected recruiting goals were a little bit challenged in FY ’22 and FY ’23.”
According to Camarillo, the Army would go from 485,000 soldiers strong to 476,000 in fiscal year 2022, and then down again to 473,000 in fiscal year 2023.
The undersecretary said the Army decided against lowering standards in the face of the branch’s recruiting issues.
“We made the assessment that we would not want to adjust our specific criteria for quality,” he said. “And so, we made the decision to just temporarily reduce end strength, as opposed to lowering our standards.”
While the change is somewhat alarming, Camarillo said it should be temporary, with the Army building its numbers back up in the next five years.
“We don’t anticipate that it is a lasting change,” Camarillo said. “It is something that we hope to bring back up over the course of the fight up. And it’s something that we certainly think is reflective of what we hope to be transient conditions in the labor market.”
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, told Breitbart News the issue was unprecedented.
“The Army has not faced such recruiting headwinds in the last 30 years. I am unaware of a situation where the Army has cut its end strength in response to a negative recruiting outlook,” Spoehr said.
“If the Biden administration was not holding the Army’s budget below the level of inflation, I am not sure they would have had to resort to cutting their end strength,” he added.
Spoehr said many Americans are choosing not to enlist due to “a perfect storm” of situations, including the Biden administration’s deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan and the perception that the military is being politicized while pushing a “woke” agenda.
“The disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan has also caused some to question our military and their competence,” he said, adding, “There is a sense among the American public that the military is becoming increasingly political and that topics such as race and gender equity, critical race theory, and wokeism in general are commanding more attention, at the cost of readiness.”