By Victor Davis Hanson | 24 July 2022
AMERICAN GREATNESS — The U.S. Army has met only 40 percent of its 2022 recruiting goals.
In fact, all branches of the military are facing historic resistance to their current recruiting efforts. If some solution is not found quickly, the armed forces will radically shrink or be forced to lower standards—or both.
Such a crisis occurs importunely as an aggressive Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea believe the Biden Administration and the Pentagon have lost traditional U.S. deterrence.
That pessimistic view abroad unfortunately is now shared by many Americans at home. In 2021, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute conducted its periodic poll of attitudes toward the U.S. military. The result was astonishing. Currently, only 45 percent of Americans polled expressed a great deal of trust in their armed forces. Confidence had dived 25 points since an early 2018 poll.
Military officials cite both the usual and a new array of challenges in finding suitable young soldiers—drug use, gang affiliation, physical and mental incapacities, and the dislocations arising from the COVID pandemic and vaccination mandates. But they are too quiet about why such supposedly longer-term obstacles suddenly coalesced in 2022—as if their own leadership and policies have had no effect in discouraging tens of thousands of young men and women to join them. […]