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The Vast Majority Of Americans In Their 20s Are Unfit For Military Service
The military is facing a growing recruiting crisis: 71% of Americans between 17 and 24 can’t meet the minimum criteria for service, which places the burden of service on an ever-small and shrinking pool of troops with a family history of joining the military.
At an Oct. 12 Heritage Foundation panel in Washington, D.C., Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican and former Air Force one-star general told attendees “the single most important ingredient to readiness is the constant flow of willing volunteers.”
Yet with less than a third of the population eligible for service, “it’s a red flag for our country,” Bacon said. “If we don't turn this around, where does the world's strongest military recruit from?”
Some quick math shows what the services are up against. For the Army, the recruiting goal for the coming fiscal year is roughly 180,000 new soldiers. According to a detailed analysis by Army Times, only 9.7 million out of the 33.4 million Americans between 17 and 24 meet the Army's minimum standards. The reasons for disqualification range from failure to meet weight and fitness standards, misconduct, medical issues, mental health, and substance abuse concerns.
Once you take into account whether or not the remaining 9.7 million are enrolled in college — and that the Army doesn’t want the bare minimum for its future soldiers — the recruiting pool shrinks to just 1.7 million. And that’s before you get to those who are even interested in enlisting. What you’re left with is just 136,000 potential recruits interested in joining out of the original pool of 33.4 million, Army Times reports.
A less diverse, more insular volunteered force
Due to the growing divide between civilians and those who serve, it’s from a small set of geographic regions and families with ties to the Armed Forces that our all-volunteer force is recruited.
Military service is increasingly shouldered by a small subset of the population — a “warrior caste” of multigenerational military families — and that population is shrinking. According to a Nov. 11, 2016 Pew Research report, the number of veterans has fallen by half since 1980, and as it declines, so too does the share of Americans with close ties to the military — those most likely to volunteer for service.
Roughly 80% of recruits entering the military have family members who served in the military; between 22% and 35% are children of veterans, depending on which service you look at, according to an Aug. 2 Slate analysis. Among Americans under 30, just a third have a relative with military service.
This uneven recruitment is also keenly represented along geographic lines, with a disproportionate number of new troops hailing from rural towns or the South. In 2010, rural Americans accounted for just 20% of the population, but were responsible for providing 44% of military recruits, as Task & Purpose previously reported.
Looking for solutions
Through incentives, aggressive marketing campaigns — and a spike in drug waivers for pot and a dip in testing standards — the Army in particular, and the military at large, can continue to keep its ranks filled, for now. But should a national security concern arise that requires mass mobilization, there may not be big enough pool of willing quality recruits to draw from.
As USNI points out, the recruitment problem would be compounded if the United States found itself in a security crisis that required a surge of fresh recruits.
“What happens if we had a national emergency?” Bacon asked during the panel. “I’m concerned about our reserve structure.”
Let’s just hope that those Americans who have made military service a family business — offering up generation after generation in defense of the country — don’t decide to go on strike.
A Corpsman went to a military hospital for a routine shoulder surgery. 4 days later he was dead, and his parents say the Navy is to blame
Jordan Way was living a waking nightmare.
The 23-year-old sailor laid in bed trembling. At times, his body would shake violently as he sobbed. He had recently undergone a routine shoulder surgery on Dec. 12, 2017, and was hoping to recover.
Instead, Jordan couldn't do much of anything other than think about the pain. Simple tasks like showering, dressing himself, or going to the bathroom alone were out of the question, and the excruciating sensation in his shoulder made lying down to sleep feel like torture.
"Imagine being asleep," he called to tell his mother Suzi at one point, "but you can still feel the pain."
To help, military doctors gave Jordan oxycodone, a powerful semi-synthetic opiate they prescribed to dull the sensation in his shoulder. Navy medical records show that he went on to take more than 80 doses of the drug in the days following the surgery, dutifully following doctor's orders to the letter.
Instinctively, Jordan, a Navy corpsman who by day worked at the Twentynine Palms naval hospital where he was now a patient, knew something was wrong. The drugs seemed to have little effect. His parents advised him to seek outside medical advice, but base doctors insisted the drugs just needed more time to work.
"They've got my back," Jordan had told his parents before the surgery, which happened on a Tuesday. By Saturday, he was dead.
The Navy has paused proceedings that could strip Eddie Gallagher and three other SEALs of their tridents while the service awaits a written order to formally stand down, a senior Navy official told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
Rear Adm. Collin Green, the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, was expected to decide on the matter after the SEALs appeared before a review board next month. But Trump tweeted on Thursday that Gallagher was in no danger of losing his trident, a sacred symbol of being part of the SEAL community.
"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin," the president tweeted. "This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (Reuters) - President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday to receive the remains of two American soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan this week.
Trump, who met with families of the soldiers, was accompanied at the base by first lady Melania Trump, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and national security adviser Robert O'Brien.
Two airmen from Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, were killed on Thursday when two T-38 Talon training aircraft crashed during training mission, according to a message posted on the base's Facebook age.
The two airmen's names are being withheld pending next of kin notification.
A total of four airmen were onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident, base officials had previously announced.
The medical conditions for the other two people involved in the crash was not immediately known.
An investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the crash.
Emergency responders from Vance Air Force Base are at the crash scene to treat casualties and help with recovery efforts.
Read the entire message below:
VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Two Vance Air Force Base Airmen were killed in an aircraft mishap at approximately 9:10 a.m. today.
At the time of the accident, the aircraft were performing a training mission.
Vance emergency response personnel are on scene to treat casualties and assist in recovery efforts.
Names of the deceased will be withheld pending next of kin notification.
A safety investigation team will investigate the incident.
Additional details will be provided as information becomes available. #VanceUpdates.
This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as more information is released.
The Army has identified the two soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Wednesday as 33-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, and 25-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr.