The Army’s been having a hell of a time filling its ranks. In late April, the service announced it would not meet its goal of picking up 80,000 new active-duty soldiers, with only 28,000 new recruits halfway through the annual recruiting cycle. Although Army Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey told the Associated Press that the branch had reduced its target to 76,500 new recruits, he insisted that higher reenlistment rates (86%, compared to 81% in years past) were making up the difference.
But there’s a subtler consequence to the Army’s recruiting problem: its potential to undermine the effectiveness of Army Special Forces. Green Beret turned UFC superstar Tim Kennedy eloquently pointed that out on The Joe Rogan Experience on May 17.
“[For] Special Forces specifically, we are gonna have the biggest deficit of eligible… population, to select from,” Kennedy said of the Army’s recruitment troubles. “You have to have a certain level of intelligence, a certain level of physicality, just to be eligible for Special Forces to pick you… that pool is the smallest that has ever been in history.”
Now, I’ve jabbed Kennedy before about some of his more rambunctious public missives (see: backyard waterboarding), but he knows exactly how intense the Special Forces Qualification Course is, having gone through it himself.
So why can’t today’s American youngsters hack it in the Green Berets? Because they’re fat, lazy fucks, that’s why.
“Kids are playing video games, they're not eating, Cheetos, less participation in sports … I mean, if you could just go to a high school and look at a high schooler now compared to 20 years ago, it's a different thing,” Kennedy said. “We weren't, like, barely getting kids past obesity 20 years ago. Now in a high school, if you walk into a classroom half the kids are obese.”
“So you think this is just because they’re sedentary ... because they're playing video games and fucking around online all day?” Rogan asked.
“It's not just… it's not me thinking this,” Kennedy responded. “It is us absolutely, quantifiably, saying ‘We do not have enough people to pick from.’”
He’s not wrong. While U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command officials told the Fayetteville Observer in February that they were striving to “fundamentally change the culture of fitness” within the Army, officials outside the military see America’s young fatasses as a “looming national security crisis.” A recent report revealed that some 71% of young Americans were ineligible to serve in the armed forces — a third of them because they were overweight.
Considering that Army Special Forces personnel are increasingly on the front lines of the Global War on Terror (beating the crap out of ISIS fighters in Niger, wading through vicious firefights against ISIS in Afghanistan, and so on), it’s likely, based on Kennedy’s logic, that Green Berets will likely experience the consequences of the Army recruitment crisis earlier and more acutely than any other part of the U.S. armed forces — and that’s going to end up as just one more obstacle to America’s road to extricating itself from the forever wars.
"We just need people like we've never needed them before," Kennedy said. "It's scary."
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
Coast Guard cutter Bertholf on a counterdrug patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean, March 11, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Trees
U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf left California on January 20 for a months-long mission in the Pacific to support U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the largest of the U.S. military's geographic combatant commands.
Coast Guardsmen aboard the Bertholf left Alameda on the 30th day of what is now the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. They left a few days after not getting their first paycheck since that shutdown started and without knowing when the next will come.