Fat and dumb: Army says less than one in four young Americans are physically or mentally fit to serve

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Maybe the U.S. Army doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so it’s carefully tiptoeing around the military’s biggie-sized problem: America has a young generation of fatties who are not smart enough to join the Army.

And that’s a concern as the Army faces declining enlistments and increasing early separations.

With a shortfall of more than 15,000 recruits in fiscal year 2023, the U.S. Army is challenged by a major set of recruitment and retention issues, including that recruits are not doing well on aptitude tests and a lack of physical fitness, according to an Army memo. Now, as the American job market is increasingly competitive, some recruits don’t want to serve in states that ban or limit abortions. They want to pick the state they are assigned to.

Some of the problem stems back to the Covid policies that kept young people at home for so long, the Army said, describing the government policies as “pandemic-driven constraints.”

In a July memo, the Army said: “America’s military faces the most challenging recruiting environment since the All-Volunteer Force was established in 1973, driven in part by the post-COVID labor market, intense competition with the private sector, and a declining number of young Americans interested in uniformed service. Currently, only 23 percent of 17- to 24-year-old Americans are fully qualified to serve. Pandemic-driven constraints like virtual learning have further limited access to the recruiting population in high schools and exacerbated a decline in academic and physical fitness levels. Preliminary data suggests remote schooling may have lowered overall Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) scores by as much as 9 percent. These conditions have negatively affected the Army’s ability to meet its recruiting targets.”

The Army identified broad “gaps” identified by market research as hindering young people from considering Army service:

  • – Knowledge Gap. The Army’s story is not reaching enough Americans, most of whom have limited exposure to currently serving Soldiers or veterans.
  • – ldentity Gap. Potential recruits cannot see themselves in the Army, often due to assumptions about Army life and culture.
  • – Trust Gap. Younger Americans are losing trust and confidence in many American institutions, including the military.

The memo says the service expects to have 466,000 soldiers at the end of this fiscal year, which ends this month, and that it will lose 11,000 soldiers by next year, bringing the force total to 445,000. The Army has set a goal to retain a force of 460,000.

As part of a short-term strategy, the Army will work on several policy changes, including revising the tattoo policy. The milestones include:

  • – Establish the Future Soldier Preparatory Course (FSPC) pilot program with the objective of better preparing recruits physically and academically to meet accessions standards, investing in those with a desire to serve so they can enlist in the Army without lowering quality. Expand and scale the preparatory course based on the pilot program results.
  • – Extend over 420 of the Army’s best military recruiters across nationwide markets to help increase the number of potential recruits.
  • – lncrease funding for targeted enlistment bonuses (up to $50,000), to include incentives for critical military occupational skill career fields.
  • – Provide quick-ship bonuses ($35,000 for recruits willing to ship within 45 days)
  • – Expand Station of Choice options for new recruits to provide additional opportunities to serve across the nation.
  • – lmplement the former Department of the Army Selected Recruiter Mentorship Program.
  • – Provide additional funding for national, regional, and local marketing in key priority population centers, including funding for recruiting events to engage with youth.
  • – Establish six regional marketing offices to better support regional and local recruiting efforts.
  • – Continue implementation of Know your Army and Passions marketing campaigns while focusing efforts to improve the conversion of leads to appointments and appointments to contracts.
  • -lmplement the revised tattoo policy, in line with other military services, that enables more youth population to serve.

One thing new recruits won’t be able to do is to avoid serving in states where abortions are banned. The mission comes first, Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Defense One in an interview.

“The U.S. Army will try to accommodate soldiers and recruits who want to avoid serving in states that have banned abortion, but the service’s needs come first, its top general said. In other words, you cannot enlist and refuse to serve in Oklahoma. But you can ask,” Defense One wrote.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Surprised? The government has done an excellent job of telling its traditional pool of applicants you’re not wanted.
    Not gay, trans, pregnant, and ready to end “white supremacy”? Go pound sand.

    At the same time the woke leadership has lost the trust of the troops through a mix on endless deployments, political micromanagement, and incompetent brass more concerned about rising up the ladder than effectively fighting a war.

    No sane person would enlist right now.

  2. I’m old enough to have seen this before. Post Vietnam, full blown Jimmy Carter, people couldn’t get out fast enough.

    We couldn’t have won a volleyball match, much less a war.

    All it took was dumping Carter (and his merry band of fools) and electing a POTUS the troops believed in.

      • You have a strange memory – it was W who got us into Afghanistan, for the purpose of wiping out those who brought us 9/11 – but it took a long while to get to Bin Laden, in Afghanistan. Ronald Reagan was the one after Carter who rebuilt both the size and the respect of our military.

  3. 20 year military retiree here. Here’s a thought, maybe the extreme woke-ism of todays military is repulsive to the majority of the individuals who would be inclined to serve and the individuals who embrace woke-ism wouldn’t be inclined to serve in the first place, so by embracing woke culture, the military services are further alienating the base group of individuals who would otherwise be inclined to sign-up. Smaller pool = less number of enlistees. I know I would actively discourage my children from serving in today’s military because I have lost trust in the Leadership to “Do the right thing”… The complete and utter failure of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is a prime example of the failure of leadership at all levels.

  4. Part of the recruitment problem may be tied to some of the young americans utilizing the internet to research before joining a military branch. It doesn’t take much effort to determine that the US military has a modern history of failing to provide adequate medical care for those returning from foreign conflict. Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome are two examples that come to mind.

  5. This goes back far beyond Covid. There has been a general decline in the quality of public school education in the US that started more than 20 years ago and has reached the point today where high school and college graduates are sadly lacking in what used to be reading, writing and arithmetic skills. Most cannot write well constructed sentences much less have no ability to do math in their head like compute what is a 15% discount or make change without the cash register doing it for them.

    • This is Woodrow Wilson’s dream. A population smart enough to be drones, but not smart enough to be a threat to their “betters”.

      The dumbing down of America isn’t accidental. It’s a long, long con finally coming to fruition.

  6. They don’t trust the politicians and the stupid wars we can’t resist. Anybody that would sign up must be it a hard place. All the freebies you can get is better than an government that threatens it’s soldiers for not taking a jab of mistrust virus. Plus you might get left behind in a war if FJB has any say.

  7. Military service runs in families. The bigger problem for the military is such families – the ones that have supplied the bulk of the recruits for generations – are actively discouraging their children from joining now given the current military “culture.”

    Don’t be surprised when the word “draft” starts being thrown around.

    • Yes. Families.

      I’m a veteran. One son is a vet and another is serving. I’m the son of a vet. The nephew to many vets and the greatgrandson of a vet.

      My family has fought in every American conflict since we arrived in the 1600s. Yes, to include the Plains and the War of Northern Aggression.

      Families like mine tend to intermarry with families of like experience and attitudes.

      The reason why? It’s safer and healthier.

      Why is it safer and healthier? Because we know that those of that grain also understand commitment.

      True commitment is placing all that you are and ever could be into the hands of your people and saying “I am here to serve, send me where you will to do what needs to be done.”

      That’s anathema to people now living in the luxuries that families like mine provide.

  8. The military has been dumbed down since 2005. My God! They are putting on backwards flags.
    It was nice to see the new Top Gun movie the other day and I noticed TC never wore a backwards flag in the whole movie. He understands exactly what that backwards flag means..hence he refused to display one.

    • Conservatives love to harangue about the wokeness and liberalism of Hollywood. But when it comes to Hollywood movies that glorify war and death and hate, they are all in. Its patriotic. Its “Murica. The defense contractors love the Top Gun series.

  9. I was 19 When I got drafted. It was a 2 year enlistment with an almost guarantee to spend a year in Nam., Most likely Infantry. That’s what I wanted That’s what I got. I didn’t want to do a 4 Year regular enlistment. I wanted to Serve in Combat, And get out..30% of those killed in Vietnam where DRAFTEES —17.700 KILLED MOSTLY 19 -20 YEAR OLDS..

  10. Majority of todays generations ‘runaway.’ look at marriages and how many individuals prefer the hooker lifestyle shacking up until each are tired of one another and conflict rears its ugly head. Sure enough the military will have its workplace dysfunction. Generations age, and gen x are aging even dying at 50 and boomers are dying, so to the reprise of younger workers just suffer for a little while w/o losing christ light and serve where you are called no matter where and who is leading the workplace. That’s what america’s great grandparents would tell us today. And that’s a part of what is living a biblical worldview. We are here to serve our Lord Christ, not be served.

    • Another issue about majority is laziness at work, which makes staying put challenging when employee has a poop-head for a boss, when the employee doesn’t even like work. If a person doesn’t like working how can one ever move-up where one can improve an environment or an institution? If Daniel and Joseph can be moved-up next to pagan kings then it can happen today.
      First americans repent and fix their eyes on God then go to work wherever one called and serve.

  11. Woke leadership at the top. Wokeness is perfectly antithetical to military life.

    Smartphones lending to misperceptions about the military.

    Smartphones also turning kids stupid.

    Smartphones proving addictive, making kids sedentary.

    Generous public assistance removing the very healthy “work or starve” attitude.

    Essentially, good “Roman citizens” can enjoy a relative life of luxury and take comfort that lives of service and sacrifice are only for “those others.”

    It’s not so much that history repeats, it’s that man remains the same.

  12. I once heard that 44% of all marriages end in divorce which meant that 56% ended in death.

    So looking at the flip side of this stat if all of the 17-24 YO qualified cohort enlisted they’d be serving to protect nearly exclusively stupid fat people? I’m not 17-24 and this seems a little harsh. I could be soothed by a Denali Mac and a chocolate shake though. Make mine a biggie.

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