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Horowitz: Army recruitment down 23% amid mandates, as Army tosses requirement for high school diploma

Op-ed
Bumblebee Dee/Getty Images

No high school diploma? Be all you can be in the military. No COVID shot after years of meritorious service? Goodbye, as we ask illegal aliens to take your place. That is the state of play in the U.S. military.

The time has come for Republican “defense hawks” to finally show some concern for the quality, morale, and mission of the military, not just throw endless money at it while the military self-immolates, expels those who don’t get Pfizer’s shot, and then complains that it can’t meet its recruiting goals. Last week, the Military Times reported, “The Army has hit 40% of its recruiting goals this year, with the struggle to fill the ranks seemingly so grim the Defense Department reduced its planned total force size because prior recruiting goals were out of reach.”

Pentagon officials announced that across the military branches, annual target recruitment goals are down 23%. To accommodate growing recruitment problems, the military is offering more financial benefits rather than emphasizing the motivation of patriotism, because clearly, in this environment, it doesn’t work. Now they are abolishing the requirement for a high school diploma or GED as a prerequisite to joining basic training for those who sign up before the end of this fiscal year. That’s how desperate they are to meet recruitment benchmarks.

Here’s a novel idea: Before we lower standards to appalling levels, how about we stop kicking out some of the most seasoned, battle-hardened soldiers for not getting the shots? Up to 40,000 National Guardsmen risk expulsion from the force if they fail to comply with the mandate by tomorrow. That is 13% of the National Guard – and as much as 30% in some states. So, our government would rather recruit those without high school diplomas than relent on a mandate for a shot.

It’s important to remember in the context of recruiting new teenagers that some of the most patriotic military families are those who did not get the shots, especially among teenagers. Those 16- to 18-year-olds who didn’t get the shots in the past year made the right choice, even based on the original risk-benefit analysis. Yet all those young boys who didn’t want to risk myocarditis cannot follow in the footsteps of their fathers or grandparents. Instead of embracing these kids from a pedigree of hundreds of years of U.S. military service, the Pentagon is looking to further reach out to illegal aliens to serve in the military.

Which brings us to the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This is considered a must-pass bill because it’s been signed into law every year going back almost to WWII. Republicans have so much leverage to fix this problem and abolish the mandates and other policies that are destroying morale in the military and motivation to join it. Yet all they do is use their leverage to fight for more money to throw at the military rather than change the corrosive policies. After all, an authorization bill is not an appropriations bill and should be more about policy than money.

Last Thursday, every single Republican on the House Armed Services Committee voted for the NDAA, after Democrats and several RINOs voted down an amendment to block the vaccine mandates. Republicans are proud that they tossed another $37 billion into the Pentagon coffers, raising the spending for the national defense budget to an unfathomable $850.4 billion. But to what end? It contains another billion for Ukraine, ironically a country with a low vaccination rate.

Republicans think they are being pro-military and patriotic by passing the NDAA unconditionally and offering a raise to the troops, but the current and potential recruits would much rather join a military that doesn’t mandate every Pfizer product for eternity, groom them into transgenderism, teach them white people are racist, and send them to fight for every other country’s border but our own. They seem more concerned about performing abortions than about combat readiness. Perhaps focusing on those issues instead will solve the recruitment problem among the patriotic families who led our nation in recruitment based on family tradition.

According to the Pentagon’s 2020 propensity report, only 11% of teens and young adults, between 16 and 21 years old, planned on future service in the military. The top three reasons respondents gave for joining the U.S. military were: pay/money, pay for future education, and travel. Defending the country was not among them. And for good reason. Kids who come from the sort of families who would join to defend the country would not exactly be drawn to a military that gives tutorials on how to create safe spaces for pronouns. Thus, bribing people with endless monetary benefits is the only recruitment tool left to “be all that you can be.”

Republicans have the leverage to hold up both the defense appropriations bill and defense authorization bill in the Senate until the mandates are ended. Additionally, Republicans governors should assert their Title 32 control over their respective national guardsmen to prohibit any discharge on account of not getting the shots. They should also use all of the printed federal dollars that are going to fund Pfizer and other illogical COVID policies to create a state-based (non-federalized) guard as a landing place for those discharged from the military, like Gov. Ron DeSantis did in Florida.

At some point, money can’t buy you a moral, competent, and combat-ready military if we are left with a pool of recruits who perhaps need the allure of free castration surgery and hormone therapy to join. The feds can print an unlimited amount of money, but they can’t print warriors.
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