US Army Desperately Searches for Competent Recruits - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
US Army Desperately Searches for Competent Recruits

In the words of Claudia Pemberton,America without her Soldiers would be like God without His angels.” Although I don’t speak for Ms. Pemberton, one assumes that the award-winning author and very proud member of the Military Writers Society of America meant “without her good soldiers,” fit and healthy individuals capable of defending the country. After all, to be truly safe, the United States requires men and women of a certain caliber. Sadly, if recent reports are anything to go by, the U.S. Army is desperately struggling to recruit the best and brightest. The consequences of this struggle could prove to be catastrophic.

The United States is being tested. Not just by China, its biggest rival, but by numerous domestic issues, including an increase in both violent crime and inflation. Now, it’s time to add the U.S. Army to the list of issues plaguing our country. In short, according to a recent Army Times report, recruiters simply can’t find enough strong, healthy young Americans capable of meeting the basic requirements to enlist. During the pandemic, as the report, written by Todd South, notes, “the service saw a 10% drop in aptitude test scores.” This year, rather disturbingly, the service has witnessed a 13-percent drop. To compound matters, “70% of potential recruits interested in Army service are disqualified in the first 48 hours.” Why?

For three reasons: obesity, low test scores, and/or drug use.

The importance of having a strong army cannot be emphasized enough. The United States’ security and stability relies on the recruitment of competent individuals. 

Earlier this year, Epoch Times writer Mimi Nguyen Ly discussed the fact that the U.S. Army was facing “unprecedented challenges” in not just attracting recruits but also training and retaining them. Because of this, she added, the Army “is likely to significantly fall short of its target number of troops” for the year. Almost 7,000 short, to be exact. Next year, according to the author, the Army is projecting a considerably higher shortfall.

There’s reason to believe that the U.S. Army’s recruitment crisis is here to stay and that the applicant pool is only going to worsen. To understand why, let’s focus on the three reasons I mentioned above.

The United States’ most recent national test results make for a sobering read. When it comes to basic reading abilities, scores for elementary school students are at their lowest point in more than three decades. Meanwhile, math scores are at their lowest point in half a century. When it comes to education, the U.S., supposedly the greatest nation in the world, now finds itself being left in the dust by its first-world peers. The country is even experiencing a decline in basic financial literacy

Then there’s obesity. To join the army, an applicant must be at least 17 years of age. The applicant must also be in decent shape. That’s bad news for the U.S., for the most obvious of reasons. A large number of American teens are, for lack of a better word, large. Over the past three decades, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in Global Pediatric Health, “the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents.” Today, according to Harvard University’s School of Public Health, 40 percent of U.S. adults and 20 percent of adolescents are not just overweight; they are clinically obese. By 2030, 51 percent of the population will be obese.

A growing number of Americans are struggling to do basic things, like read, write, and walk. 

Finally, there is the increase in drug use. According to the Addiction Center, a site dedicated to helping those with addiction, members of Generation Z, often referred to as “zoomers,” have a higher risk of developing substance abuse than members of previous generations. Reasons include profound loneliness and obsessive use of social media. As individuals born between 1997 and 2012, millions of zoomers enjoy smoking cannabis. “So what?” some will say. “Recreational use of cannabis is legal in many states.” Yes, but the cannabis of today is very different from the cannabis of the ’60s and ’70s. It’s much more addictive, and it’s much more potent. The use of high-potency weed is closely associated with psychosis, a severe mental disorder that sees a person lose touch with reality. Your average Gen Z-er is more likely to be found nursing a powerful “blunt” than a beer.

In many ways, zoomers are a generation cursed by addiction. Across the country, millions of young Americans are struggling with crippling insecurities and various addictions. Worryingly, there’s reason to believe that the next generation of adults, Generation Alpha (those born between 2010 and 2024), will struggle with even more addiction-related struggles.

What can be done to arrest the worrying decline?

Some think we should turn to lowering standards. That’s understandable. But one can’t help but shudder at the idea of the U.S. Army’s having to lower the bar because millions of young Americans are incapable of clearing it. Over the next few decades, expect the lowering of the bar to become an annual event.

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