'An American problem': Four-star general blames dwindling Army recruitment on obesity and crime
WASHINGTON, DC: The United States of America is struggling to meet its fiscal year 2022 recruiting goals and that too for every branch of the US military as per several US Army experts. Numbers surfacing online show both a record low percentage of young Americans eligible to serve and an even tinier fraction willing to consider it. To give an idea, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville testified before Congress last that only 23% of Americans ages 17-24 are qualified to serve without a waiver to join, down from 29% in recent years. Now, a four star general claims that America is giving itself to obesity and crime.
Lt Gen Xavier Brunson, the commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, reflected on the fact that the US Army will not be meeting the original goal of 485,000 for 2022, falling short by a massive 20,000 recruits. Brunson told Spokesman Review, "Some of the challenges we have are obesity, we have pre-existing medical conditions, we have behavioral health problems, we have criminality, people with felonies, and we have drug use." He firmly continued, "This is not an Army problem, this is an American Problem. Only 23% of the people that are of age to serve are actually qualified. This is now a condition. This is not an Army problem, so nationally what we have to look at is what's going on with our youth."
A New York Times report the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force also are reportedly struggling to meet recruitment quotas post the coronavirus pandemic. In order to curb this, the Army should "lower the gates" and hire key community influencers to educate the lost youth about military service and focus on three principles: maintaining its existing standards, focusing on quality not quantity, and investing in the youth of America.
US Army recruitments are at an all-time low
Brunson, who has served his country for 32 years, further talked about people misconceiving the notion of joining the Army. He said, "I get troubled when people talk about the Army as if it’s the end of a thing. The Army is the beginning of a thing. It’s the opening of an aperture to the rest of your life. I think there’s a divide in the nation between the stewardship of the nation and ownership of the nation. People own the title, ‘I’m an American,’ but stewardship says, ‘I’ve served the nation,’ and that’s what makes the republic sound."
The Army previously also reported increasing the monetary benefits to increase recruitments with bonuses offered up to $50,000, and bonuses up to $35,000 for soldiers who ship out within 45 days. Brunson talked about the Future Soldier Program in South Carolina that helps shape potential recruits and prepare for academic and physical requirements to enlist. It is anticipated that the 90-day program would increase the quality of the enrollers by allowing potential soldiers to prepare before officially enrolling. Talking about the program, Brunson said, "There are people who can be led from the front, but there are a certain number of people with a desire to serve who can be led from behind a little bit."