Long, slow decline of the US military’s all-volunteer force puts America in danger

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 1 week ago

The silly and trivial Mark Esper offers solutions.

The fact is the pool of Americans aged 17-24 who are qualified and interested in serving continues to shrink. When I was secretary of the Army in 2018, 71% of these 34 million young people could not meet the military’s entry requirements due mostly to obesity, drug use, physical and mental health problems, and criminal misconduct. Four years later, that number is even higher. Further, of the 23% eligible to serve today, another 10% don’t meet the military’s academic standards. Worse, of the 3.5 million young Americans remaining, only 9% (~320,000) have a proclivity to serve. A nation of 332 million people should do better than that.

It’s even worse than that.  Readiness is at an all-time low, and the existing enlistment mostly treats the military as a jobs program.

Then he gives his solution.

The scope and scale of these trends are beyond the ability of the Pentagon to remedy. There are actions the services can and are taking, but these only address the problem at the margins. Because the ability of the military to defend the country depends directly on a sizable force of top-notch volunteers, this is a national challenge that must be addressed at the highest levels.

This means the White House and Congress must work together to reverse the underlying trends. They could begin by standing up a bipartisan commission of esteemed leaders, much like President Richard Nixon did in 1969 when he decided to end conscription. This time, rather than creating the AVF, the new panel’s mission would be to save it. As such, commissioners must focus on the key issues: increasing the pool of young people qualified to serve and raising their interest in doing so.

For reasons that also extend beyond the military’s needs, the commission should look at ways to improve the health and fitness of America’s youth, review and update eligibility requirements, expand JROTC nationally, create new ways for civilians to interact with their military brethren, eliminate misconceptions about military life, and ensure recruiters unfettered access to high schools across America. Meanwhile, the Pentagon must steer away from lowering standards, reducing the size of the military, or creating hollow combat formations. We must field the force we need to win our nation’s wars, not take shortcuts.

Get a commission.  Make a law.  Engage in talky talk.  Make people believe lies about the situation.  Convince them of things that aren’t true.

Nothing at all about a woke military, gender neutral pronouns, women in combat, and nothing about discipline.

Nothing about letting the Marines do what Marines do – sending recruits or boots to the “room of pain” if they screw up.  The focus is on exoskeletal machines to assist in carrying heavy loads, giving them better weapons, manufacturing drones for stand-off warfare, and making sure transgender celebrations are had by all at the Pentagon.  Nothing at all about the fact that the generals want to train the military to fight Americans.

So the beat goes on, and the military continues to decline because no patriot wants to join a force that kills Americans.

So sad that anyone would float stupid ideas like Esper did.


  1. On September 19, 2022 at 9:25 pm, Fred said:

    Why would anyone want to serve in defense of a country of sodomites, degenerates, perverts, and freaks. That’s all any media is about, it’s what America is selling itself on. Being Christian, I’m diametrically opposed to all America purports to have become. By the Law of God I must oppose the new America, as must all Christians.

  2. On September 19, 2022 at 11:47 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    Re: “Get a commission. Make a law. Engage in talky talk. Make people believe lies about the situation. Convince them of things that aren’t true.

    Nothing at all about a woke military, gender neutral pronouns, women in combat, and nothing about discipline.”

    Former Secretary of the Army Mark Esper is absolutely emblematic of the sort of mediocre time-server who rises to the top in that “swamp” known as Washington, D.C. The kind of man the late Colonel David L. Hackworth, one of the finest military men our nation has ever produced, would have called a “perfumed prince.” Bureaucrats in uniform, men who rise high not by being genuine leaders and warriors, but by learning the right things to whisper and into whose ears those things should be whispered. By having no permanent convictions save those things which advance them and gain them wealth, power and prestige.

    “Men” – using that term in its widest possible latitude – like Esper are common even in military circles in times of relative peace & prosperity because the hard truth of the matter is that warriors make the chair-warmers at HQ uncomfortable. The genuine fighters and hard men of the kind who win wars make waves when the last thing most of the bureaucrats-in-uniform want is any disturbance at all of any kind in the status quo.

    But when a genuine emergency arises – a national emergency of some kind in which the nation is truly threatened – that’s when even official Washington “rediscovers” the virtues of men who win battles and wars.

    Back in the old days of the Great Depression, there was a common saying: “Dogs and soldiers keep off the grass…” which meant that a soldier was about as low in the pecking order and social hierarchy as a dog. That’s one reason why soldiers used to be called “dog faces” or “dog-faced soldiers”… because only a loser would want to serve in the armed forces, someone who literally had no other prospects.

    That attitude has never really gone away in the halls of power in Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was once in the army himself, openly mocked military men as cannon fodder and called them fools and idiots and probably lots of other things which haven’t come to light. Kissinger was merely verbalizing what many denizens of the swamp believe but are perhaps unwilling to express so openly.

    As Army Chief of Staff in the years leading up to WWII, General George C. Marshall was famous for keeping a notebook in which he and his aide kept careful notes about outstanding officers and men within the army and the military at large, and also those who fell short of his standards. When war came, he was ready with suggestions of good men when the president and the cabinet asked for them. Just as he was ready with a list of men who needed replacement.

    Marshall’s approach to personnel problems worked fine in the 1940s, but wars happen and unfold so quickly today that there is a very real danger there won’t be time to get those good men and warriors into place once the ball has gone up, or clear out the deadwood, for that matter.

    And that’s the danger of fiddling while Rome burns, which is what the “elites” like Esper are doing. Our probable enemies are prepared for war, sharpening their hatchets and hardening up, while our “leaders” play foolish games with pronouns and drive the last of the good men out of uniform entirely. This isn’t going to end well, not well at all. Arrogance and incompetence are indeed a dangerous combination.

  3. On September 19, 2022 at 11:58 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Herschel Smith

    Re: “Long, slow decline of the US military’s all-volunteer force puts America in danger”

    Yes, well-stated and entirely correct… for it isn’t strength which is provocative – but weakness. And the United States hasn’t been this weak and vulnerable relative to its likely enemies, since before the Second World War.

    It would be bad-enough if this state of affairs had come about more-or-less by accident or by chance, but the fact that this hazardous state is being deliberately created by our so-called “leaders” is quite alarming, to say the least.
    Treason is being committed openly, and yet almost no one is speaking in those terms, at least not on the record.

    The Bidens, Joe and Hunter, are are bed with and are owned by the Communist Chinese. If we still lived in a republic of laws, they’d have been arrested a long time ago. The fact that they have not faced even the slightest censure – let alone any actual criminal charges – is indicative of just how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone.

    The Founders, were they here, would weep to witness the degraded and corrupt state into which the nation and its government have fallen.

  4. On September 20, 2022 at 9:40 am, Frank Clarke said:

    Step one cannot be a commission. Step one must be an admission — that we have used our military as political firewood to be tossed into the flames whenever some bureaucrat wants more heat. With the open-ended AUMF and Congress abandoning its Constitutional duty to declare war, an American soldier can expect to find himself in some far off third world hell hole for reasons that are not intuitively obvious. Stop that and the remainder of the solution becomes possible. Stop it not and there is no solution, because potential American soldiers have awakened to the price of that ‘Pentagon jobs program’ and have deemed it to be too high. Those who consider it “a good deal” are probably not who you want in the army.

    As to restarting the draft, the 13th amendment states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States…”. Draftees have committed some crime — becoming 18 years old, I guess — or the draft is unconstitutional. Of course, if you, like W, think the Constitution is “just a God-damned piece of paper”, then that’s not a problem.

  5. On September 20, 2022 at 12:46 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Frank Clarke

    Regarding the draft, in the first years of our history as a republic – indeed, before it during the War of Rebellion against Britain – volunteers have always stepped forward in times of need. The first recorded conscription was by Lincoln during the Civil War in the 1860s, and it didn’t really become a fixture of national life until the turn of the 20th century and the Great War.

    What is needed isn’t a return to conscription, but a return to entirely volitional, voluntary service of the kind that was used for the militia in the American Revolution. Any man could join or leave the service at any time; while on duty he agreed to subject himself to the authority of the officers in command.

    Of course, the powers-that-be in Sodom-on-the-Potomac won’t take kindly to that idea, since the deep-state has gotten rather attached to having its own private army with which to play the games of empire.

    It is also germane to note that the Founders, in recognition of the fact that United States was to be a maritime power, authorized a large standing navy and naval infantry, what became the United States Marine Corps. However, suspicious of large standing armies, they only authorized a small professional full-time force, preferring that the remainder of any men needed be reservists.

    This was as a direct result of British Redcoats being quartered in American homes in the run-up to the break with the crown. The Founders did not want to repeat that experience, hence their discipline in keeping the professional army relatively small. Parsimony also played a part, as the new republic was nearly broke.

    In the modern world, the U.S. would be wise to emulate the Swiss model as well, which is not all that different from the one proposed by the Founders.

  6. On September 20, 2022 at 12:59 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    There’s one more important point:

    By returning the U.S. armed forces to a truly all-volunteer model, where personnel are entirely free to come and go as they please, the troops themselves would in effect “vote” on the legitimacy of whatever operation was being undertaken. They do not now have voice in how they are used and for what reasons, save perhaps indirectly; moving to a system like this would change that dramatically.

    Let’s do a thought experiment. If service in Afghanistan and Iraq were entirely voluntary over the last twenty years, how many American soldiers do you think would have opted to remain there on their second, third, or fourth tour – especially after perhaps having been “stop-lossed” back into uniform?

    Our experience in the Second World War and other conflicts proves that when the nation is directly threatened, the people of this country will answer the call – they will step forward on their own, without need of compulsion.

    If necessary, the permanent cadre of the army or whatever service could serve under somewhat different rules contractually, as needed. But the vast majority who are reservists should not be compelled in any way to be there.

    The beauty of this system is that the policymakers and the Pentagon/DOD would no longer be able to spin-doctor unpopular wars and interventions in the manner that they do now. Why? Because they’d be hemorrhaging personnel….

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You are currently reading "Long, slow decline of the US military’s all-volunteer force puts America in danger", entry #32033 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Department of Defense and was published September 19th, 2022 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (704)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (40)
Air Power (10)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (22)
Ammunition (225)
Animals (201)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (341)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (83)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (27)
Australian Army (7)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (154)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (18)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (3)
Blogs (24)
Body Armor (23)
Books (3)
Border War (17)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (38)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (16)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (16)
Christmas (13)
CIA (30)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (3)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (218)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (201)
Department of Homeland Security (26)
Disaster Preparedness (5)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (12)
Donald Trump (27)
Drone Campaign (4)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (2)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (35)
Featured (188)
Federal Firearms Laws (18)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (1,625)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (15)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (44)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (9)
Georgia (19)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (1,483)
Guns (2,139)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (8)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (16)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (3)
Horses (2)
Humor (67)
Hunting (9)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (98)
India (10)
Infantry (4)
Information Warfare (4)
Infrastructure (4)
Intelligence (23)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (171)
Iraq (379)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (64)
Islamists (97)
Israel (19)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (3)
Jihadists (81)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (5)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (6)
Lawfare (12)
Leadership (6)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (50)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (273)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
Media (62)
Medical (144)
Memorial Day (6)
Mexican Cartels (39)
Mexico (58)
Michael Yon (6)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (5)
Military Equipment (25)
Militia (8)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (25)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (25)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (88)
NATO (15)
Navy (29)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (3)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (3)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (62)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (221)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (7)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (70)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (3)
Pizzagate (21)
Police (588)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (960)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (412)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (75)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (37)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (514)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (28)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (23)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (34)
Survival (150)
SWAT Raids (57)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (8)
Tactical Gear (7)
Taliban (168)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (21)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (95)
Thanksgiving (12)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (24)
TSA Ineptitude (13)
TTPs (4)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (17)
U.S. Sovereignty (21)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (10)
Uncategorized (78)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (3)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (407)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (4)
War Reporting (21)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (76)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (21)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2022 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.