Military Commanders are sounding the alarm on a potential crisis.
According to 2017 Pentagon data, 71 percent of young Americans between 17 and 24 are ineligible to serve in the United States military.Put another way: Over 24 million of the 34 million people of that age group cannot join the armed forces—even if they wanted to. This is an alarming situation which threatens the country’s fundamental national security. If only 29 percent of the nation’s young adults are even qualified to serve, and these negative trends continue, it is inevitable that the U.S. military will suffer from a lack of manpower.
The military depends on a constant flow of volunteers every year to meet its requirements, and as the number of eligible Americans declines, it will be increasingly difficult to meet the needs. This is not a distant problem to address decades from now. The U.S. military is already having a hard time attracting enough qualified volunteers. Of the four services, the Army has the greatest annual need. The Army anticipates problems with meeting its 2018 goal to enlist 80,000 qualified volunteers, even with increased bonuses and incentives.
Even more than on planes, ships, and tanks, the military depends on ready and willing American volunteers to protect this nation. In a recent panel discussion on this looming crisis, Army Major General Malcolm Frost, the commander of the Army’s Initial Military Training Command said, “I would argue that the next existential threat we have…is the inability to man our military.”
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