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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick was everything an aviator or wannabe aviator could hope for. I'm a sucker for a good military action movie as much as the next guy, so of course I'll go see it. Even a longtime helicopter and tiltrotor pilot like me can appreciate that a Low Altitude Tactics (LAT) flight at 500 knots is pretty badass — and yes, even acknowledge that an F/A-18E Rhino might be almost as sexy as a V-22.
In 1986, Top Gun (or TOPGUN for purists) changed civilians' whole perception of the military in general, and the Navy and naval aviation in particular. Applications for Annapolis skyrocketed. So did enlistments, along with buyer's remorse when thousands of sailors realized the only need for speed they'd feel would be manning their brooms a little quicker during "sweepers."
Top Gun: Maverick will probably be a very entertaining movie. While the Navy definitely would have shit-canned Mav years ago, Xenu has come through for him big time. Tom Cruise will be at his Cruisiest. But while popcorn sales will be through the roof in 2020, recruitment numbers won't skyrocket like they did in 1986. In fact, I'd bet they won't even budge.
There are all sorts of reasons why the U.S. military enlisting 16 year olds (which means actually recruiting them at 15, 14, even 13 years old) is a bad idea.
Just to name five:
CONCORD, N.H. — The U.S. Army signed onto a partnership with the state of New Hampshire on Wednesday in the hopes of sharpening its recruiting edge.
Army Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that some schools "are not letting our recruiters in" to talk to students, and some school counselors "are not even presenting [the Army] as an opportunity, the chance to serve their country."
The U.S. Army will always face challenges recruiting the soldiers it needs, but an uphill battle is no excuse not to strive to do better —or learn from other countries' modernization efforts.