WHAT IF THEY GAVE A WAR AND EVERYBODY WAS WOKE? The military’s embrace of faddish politics may make activists happy, but it’s driving away recruits:
Is the U.S. prepared for battle? By one measure, military recruitment, the answer appears to be no. Nearly every branch has struggled to meet its recruitment goals for 2022, with some falling as short as 40%. Worse yet, only about a quarter of America’s youth meet current eligibility standards—and recent surveys show only 9% are even interested.
Military leadership primarily blames this slump on two causes: teen obesity rates and the tight labor market. But data for both claims can’t paint the full picture. Teen obesity did increase during the pandemic, to 22% from 19%. But that jump likely can’t account for the sudden and widespread collapse in recruitment. Neither can the labor market. The unemployment rate today sits at 3.6%—roughly the same as in 2019. Yet in 2019 the Army exceeded its recruiting goals. It’s falling perilously short today and will be understrength by 28,000 troops by the end of 2023. The military’s benefits—including child care, housing allowances, medical coverage and large bonuses, up to $50,000—should also help insulate it from the pitfalls of hiring young recruits in a tight labor market.
What, then, explains the shift? Perhaps one answer lies in the Pentagon’s wholesale embrace of woke politics.
On his first day in office, President Biden rescinded a Trump-era executive order banning critical-race-theory training in the military. The changes made by senior commanders were nearly immediate. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mandated that every military unit conduct a “stand-down” to confront “extremism in the ranks.” The chief of naval operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, added Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist” to his professional reading list for sailors—never mind the book’s endorsement of racial discrimination and its charges that the institutions troops swear to protect are systemically racist.
In addition to the hyper-wokeness, as Glenn noted on Wednesday, there’s also “the Afghanistan debacle. When you casually create the greatest military defeat and humiliation in U.S. history and then pronounce it a success, people aren’t excited about dying for you.”
Update: Priorities: U.S. Military Base Is Hosting a Drag Show. “It seems as if every day lately there is another reason to break out the champagne in Moscow and Beijing, and Saturday was no exception: it was the day of Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE)’s first ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summer Festival,’ featuring (what else), a drag show. What does all this woke nonsense have to do with winning wars? Oh, never mind that; that’s the old, white supremacist military! The new diverse military has other priorities altogether.”
(Updated and bumped.)