Tag Archive for: USMilitaryReadiness

The Pentagon Owns Its Recruiting Crisis

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editors’ Note: We think it likely that the emphasis on transgender issues, race, feminism, and betrayal of the troops in Afghanistan ( the long indecisive conduct of the War itself and multiple deployments) are all issues. As to the double down of the military on forced vaccines, we have this observation: the Commander-in-Chief has been vaccinated twice, boosted twice, lives in a mask-controlled bubble with an attending physician at hand, and he got Covid. If the vaccines really worked, this could not happen. The insistence that we all take the risk of serious side effects (particularly myocarditis in young men) for something that is patently ineffective, rubs people the wrong way. It is like, you can’t join unless you believe our lie about the vaccines and the equally offensive lie about the special campaign to root out white supremacy. Many people from the rural South who make up 40% of the military simply say that is BS, which it assuredly is. The military has lost sight of its mission: maximum combat readiness. Instead, it has let itself become a petri dish for progressive social experimentation. Who would want to become part of that and risk your life in the process?

 

Replenishing the military ranks with qualified personnel is a perennial challenge. It’s no secret, though, that this year our armed forces are fighting uphill to recruit and retain talent.

Most of the services are well behind their quotas. But the Army, our largest service, is having the hardest time enticing young Americans. That service will fall short, nearly 20,000 troops from its original target end strength of 485,000 for FY ’22, and next year could be worse.

To manage, Army officials have slashed end strength and enlistment goals, while recruiters are offering fat stacks of cash and generous service terms as inducements.

So far, nothing is working.

The Army’s Chief of Staff, General James McConville, blames the shortfall on the competition with the private sector. Others blame upwardly mobile families who would rather their children attend college than wear a uniform.

Both are old saws. And this year, they ring hollow.

Some civilian jobs do pay more. But for an 18-year-old with only a high school diploma, military compensation is nothing to sneeze at. Indeed, recruits most often cite generous pay and benefits as the reason for signing papers.

Meanwhile, undergraduate enrollments are down over 600,000 from last year. So, it appears our missing recruits aren’t trading rifles for books, either.

Instead of blaming their competition, the Pentagon brass might dwell on their tarnished image as the reason fewer young Americans want to join up. 

Public trust in the military institution has plunged steeply since 2018, according to one poll. Respondents cite politicized leaders, scandals, and the bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan for their loss in confidence. 

We might add to that list suicidessexual assaultssocial justice indoctrination, and Covid vaccination policies as dulling the shine of military service.

Of the lot, the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate may prove its deepest self-inflicted wound. 

While the service chiefs are begging Congress to fund more generous recruiting incentives, they have forcibly discharged thousands of vaccine dissenters – including most of those objecting on religious grounds. A similar fate awaits tens of thousands more of the unjabbed in the National Guard and Reserve. Never mind that our military increasingly relies on these part-time troops for routine mission support.

And the Pentagon has doubled down. Submission to the vaccine is now a condition of enlistment, despite evidence the therapy is at best ineffective, and at worst dangerous for younger, healthier people.

It’s a policy gravely alienating to the families of Middle America whose children disproportionately serve in our all-volunteer force.

Before going further, consider that fewer than one quarter of Americans in the prime recruitment age of 17-24 years can meet our military’s physical, moral, or educational entry requirements, and that figure continues to decline. 

Of those, only about 9% of young Americans have any desire to serve. Perhaps only 1% ever do.

High standards have produced something of an embarrassment of riches. Our service members are amongst the healthiest, most disciplined, and best educated of their cohort nationally. But to maintain this quality, recruiters have come to count on solidly middle-class families inhabiting our Mid-American towns, suburbs, and rural counties to fill their quotas. 

Recruiters bank on small-town America because for a variety of reasons our populous cities produce few qualified volunteers. Even the New Yorkers and Californians in the ranks are more likely to hail from upstate or inland counties. In fact, a once-reliable third of all new recruits enter from just five southern states: Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

The prepossessed term for these rich recruiting grounds is ‘flyover country.’

Instead, we might think of them as communities celebrating life on a smaller and more intimate scale, where patriotism, faith, family, and public service remain in fashion.

And yet their young people are not signing up like they used to.

The belief by some that vaccine mandates are meant to purge conservative Christians from the armed forces may be one reason recruiting offices are empty. After all, young people living in these prime recruitment areas are somewhat more religious and tend to be more conservative in outlook than many Americans.

They also are less likely to be vaccinated against Covid.

A more charitable account, though, is that the brass authored their own Catch-22 in the rush to prove their obedience to President Biden. As such, they have taken a position purported to improve readiness that has done quite the opposite. And now that they’ve become so thoroughly entrenched, they cannot easily retreat.

No matter. It should trouble the Pentagon more that their reluctant recruits are most likely military legacies.

Like many professions, the military is a family business. Roughly 80% of recruits either grew up in a military family or have a close relative who served. General McConville’s own clan is actually something of a poster family in career following, with three children and a son-in-law in uniform. Even the general’s wife once served.

Career following in military families is nothing new. It’s been going on since our country’s founding. The children of veterans, like those of bankers or physicians, often emulate their parents’ professional ethos early on. For soldiers, this includes respect for duty and honorable, selfless service. The generational transmission of such virtues has played a critical role not only in reproducing our service cultures but by extension our national values.

But it’s also a fragile chain.

While research indicates that military children are 5 times more likely to follow a parent into the service, only 1 in 4 do. And their desire to serve drops sharply every year over the age of 18. 

In short, the Pentagon’s stubborn adherence to its Covid protocol is breaking faith with its once loyal base. And the longer they dig in, the smaller that base will become.

It’s a high price our nation may pay for unimaginative leadership.

P. Michael Phillips is a retired senior military leader with significant political-military experience in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and a researcher in the social and cultural reproductive aspects of Civil-Military Relations.

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This article was published by The Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Headed for Insolvency: Biden Administration Increases US Obligations Worldwide

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Watching the Biden administration, you’d think Uncle Sam didn’t have a care in the world. Washington is tossing more money at Ukraine, preparing to defend two more European nations, planning an Asia trip to enhance US alliances, sending troops to again battle Somali Islamists, and begging the new ruler of the United Arab Emirates to let America serve him better.

Yet the US is effectively bankrupt. The national debt already stands at 100 percent of GDP, nearing the post-World War II record. Deficits will remain at about $1 trillion annually even as COVID recedes. Democratic activists continue to press the administration to expand the federal soup line, with a massive student debt writedown. And Baby Boomers continue to retire, creating what will become a red ink tsunami in coming years.

Despite a world full of seeming chaos and conflict, America remains amazingly secure. There are no serious security threats in the Western Hemisphere. The challenges faced by America from governments it dislikes, such as Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Mexico, are mere annoyances compared to the challenges faced by most other nations, including those on Uncle Sam’s naughty list.

Indeed, the Biden administration admitted as much when it sent a delegation to Caracas to discuss the possibility of easing sanctions and returning Venezuelan oil to the market. The US has been unable to oust the Maduro dictatorship, but most Americans haven’t noticed. The lack of a competing power, let alone great power nearby, frees US policymakers to meddle around the globe.

Africa is a continent of much promise and tragedy. Somalia is a shell of its former self, damaged by the struggle between the Soviet Union and the US during the Cold War. President Joe Biden is sending American military personnel back to what remains of that nation. His purpose: to combat the al-Shabab Islamist militia and target its leadership. America’s withdrawal, ordered by President Donald Trump, was long overdue. Alas, Biden’s decision, noted in the New York Times by Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt, “will revive an open-ended American counterterrorism operation that has amounted to a slow-burn war through three administrations.” A plan for success that is not. Washington should leave the conflict to Somalis and their neighbors, which already are involved through the African Union.

Worse, and certainly more shameful, has been the administration’s kowtow to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Washington spent decades sending US troops to act as royal bodyguards. There was plausible justification during the Cold War when the Carter administration feared that the Soviet Union might seek to cut the West’s oil supply. That vague possibility, never very serious, disappeared long ago.

Defense is one thing, but the US has armed and supported the Saudi led, UAE supported brutal war against Yemen, making American officials complicit in endless war crimes. Outrageously, the administration apologized for not acting quick enough to protect Abu Dhabi from Yemeni retaliation for killing thousands of civilians. And neither state is paying back past US favors, rejecting desperate begging by Washington to hike oil production.

The US should suggest that the Saudi and Emirati royals use their expensive arsenals for defense rather than offense. In truth, the biggest threat to those regimes now is internal—how many Emiratis or Saudis want to die for a pampered royal elite? Let these regimes work together and with Israel to balance Iran, or even better, negotiate a modus vivendi allowing Sunnis and Shiites to live together in peace.

The President and Congress came up with $40 billion for Ukraine, almost as much as Russia devotes to its military in a year and more than European nations, other than France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, spend annually. This also is far more than the Europeans have provided to Kyiv, even though their collective economy is almost as large as America’s, and they long have refused to take their own defense seriously. Russia’s attack on Ukraine obviously matters much more to them than to the US. Amid the Europeans’ supposed military awakening, they should take the lead in backing Kyiv. So far, at least, the crisis that is supposed to energize European military outlays is costing Americans far more.

And that will get worse with the applications of Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Neither has been threatened by Moscow, which remains entangled in, and in danger of losing the war with Ukraine. Finland already has a competent force, and Kyiv has shown the way for Europe to defend itself devoting serious resources to territorial defense. The Europeans should focus on their security, not out-of-area excursions, such as in Libya a decade ago.

Neither Stockholm nor Helsinki is vital to America, which should be the primary criterion for Washington to issue a security guarantee. That is why the US and the rest of Europe refused to induct Ukraine into NATO, despite multiple promises to do so. No one was prepared to go to war for Kyiv with nuclear-armed Russia. There is no better reason to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia over Finland or Sweden.

And this would be primarily America’s burden. If Russia attacked Finland along its 810-mile border, it wouldn’t be Montenegro, Spain, or Italy that would send troops. Nor would Germany, North Macedonia, or Greece respond if Moscow used nuclear weapons. Adding two new countries to NATO would expand Americans’ military burdens yet again. President Eisenhower warned Washington against acting like “a modern Rome guarding the far frontiers with our legions.” If Europe doesn’t take over this burden when it perceives serious military danger, when will it do so?

And of course, there is Asia. The President is keen to restore America’s alliances there, too, which naturally means spending more money. He invited ASEAN members—representing Southeast Asian states—to the US and then headed off to Asia for summits with members of the Quad, as well as South Korea’s new president. The best response to China is for friendly regional powers cooperating to constrain the People’s Republic of China.

That, however, would require them to spend more money on their militaries and take responsibility for day-to-day security issues. Only now is Japan apparently ready to spend more than one percent of GDP on its military, after relying on the US to do the military heavy lifting for decades. The ruling party is talking about moving to two percent, but that is unlikely to occur unless Washington makes clear that the US no longer is going to be the guardian on station in the region. If someone should defend the unpopulated but contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands from the PRC, it should be Japan.

South Korea too. It carries a greater defense burden since the potential threat is bigger. The Republic of Korea has about 50 times the GDP, twice the population, and a vast technological lead over North Korea. And the ROK has come through the COVID pandemic while the North faces a potentially disastrous infectious tsunami with the Omicron variant having breached its sealed borders. Why should Washington continue to station an army division on the peninsula? Why shouldn’t ROK units be created and deployed to fill the gaps currently covered by US forces?

Foreign and military policy should reflect circumstances. A greater US role was required during the Cold War when friendly states were recovering from World War II, and both the USSR and PRC presented serious military challenges. That world is long over.

That doesn’t mean that Washington faces no security challenges. They are, however, different. Most important, friendly states can do far more for themselves and their regions. Instead of risking Americans’ lives further and longer and piling America’s debt higher and wider, President Biden should be shifting security responsibilities from the US to its defense welfare recipients.

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This article was published by AIER, American Institute for Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.

Readiness Problem? The U.S. Military Is Sending Its Own Weapons to Ukraine

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

One day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the U.S. started sending military aid to Ukraine in waves. U.S. allies and partners followed suit, and Ukraine has been able not only to stop but push back Russian forces with Western weapons.

The American-made FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank weapons and the British-made Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) have been a hit with Ukrainian forces, enabling them to destroy thousands of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles. Lots of other weapon systems have contributed too.

Drawdown Authority 

Drawdown authority allows the Pentagon to go to its own arms stockpiles and pick weapon systems to send to Ukraine.

The U.S. Department of Defense has sent the following packages of military aid to Ukraine:

  • February 25: $350m
  • March 12: $200m
  • March 16: $800m
  • April 1: $300m
  • April 5: $100m
  • April 13: $800m
  • April 21: $800m
  • April 24: $322m
  • May 6: $100m

One very natural and expected question is whether the transfer of so many weapon systems to Ukraine is affecting U.S. military readiness.

“I can assure you that we are not at the point where our inventories of these systems have … or will imminently affect our readiness. We’re comfortable that our stocks are in keeping with our readiness needs. But we obviously know that, as these packages go on, and as the need continues inside Ukraine, we want to lead turn … We want to be ahead of the bow wave on that and not get to a point where it becomes a readiness issue,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby had said in April.

Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has played a key part in getting all of these billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine.

As of last week, the Pentagon had a mere $100 million left in drawdown authority, making the passage of the proposed massive package of aid to Ukraine necessary if the U.S. wishes to continue to support the Ukrainian military.

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Continue reading this article at Real Clear Defense.