Army Recruiting Less White Americans Than Ever – Why?

military white recruits
The U.S. Army: Army photo by D. Myles Cullen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Military recruitment has been dismal for the last few years, with the United States Army seemingly struggling the most out of all the branches. Arguments as to why fewer and fewer young Americans are raising their right hand to be all they can be abound from a competitive labor market, lack of eligible young Americans, and, of course, everyone’s favorite scapegoat – COVID.

However, a recent data analysis by Military.com has uncovered an interesting downward trend in one specific demographic for the United States Army. The numbers don’t lie… young white Americans just aren’t as interested in going into the Army as they used to be.

The question is… why?

By the numbers

Military.com reviewed recruitment data for the United States Army, and what they found was shocking. In the last half-decade, recruitment of white soldiers has plummeted significantly.

Not only did they find that the numbers have decreased, but the downward trend of white recruits has directly accounted for a large chunk of the overall recruitment slump felt by the Army. In 2018, the number of new Army recruits who are white was 44,042.

In 2023, only 25,070 new Army recruits were white, with the data showing a 6% dip in white soldier recruitment from 2022 to 2023. Overall, the Army missed its 2023 recruitment goal of 65,000 by a whopping 10,000.

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The article notes that:

“Internally, some Army planners are alarmed over the data trends, but see it as a minefield to navigate given increasing partisan attacks against the military for its efforts to recruit and support a diverse force.”

Imagine that? Navigating a significant deficit in white recruits might warrant some negative press for the Army given all the claims the Department of Defense has gone “woke”.

https://twitter.com/RPKReport/status/1745505809575088544

It’s because it’s woke

The heads of the military branches and the leaders at the Pentagon have long argued that the military isn’t too “woke” and the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are not why recruitment is so low.

However, an unnamed Army official told Military.com:

“No, the young applicants don’t care about this stuff. But the older people in their life do who have a lot of influence…”

The unnamed official goes on to say:

“There’s a level of prestige in parts of conservative America with service that has degraded. Now, you can say you don’t want to join, for whatever reason, or bad-mouth the service without any cultural guilt associated for the first time in those areas.”

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Let’s explore that theory: why would it be socially and culturally acceptable in traditional conservative households to speak poorly of the United States military and try to dissuade family members from enlisting? Let me count the reasons:

  • Lack of clear military victories since World War II
  • Endless Wars with no objective – see Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc.
  • Shamefully executed withdrawal from Afghanistan
  • Needless deaths of the 13 servicemembers during the Afghanistan withdrawal
  • Lack of military leadership accountability for repeated failures
  • Poor, unhealthy, and unsafe living conditions
  • Prevalence of sexual assault
  • Trainings on white privilege and white guilt
  • Advertisements geared toward extreme left-wing recruits
  • Prevalence of servicemembers experiencing food insecurity

I could go on, but I have a word count limit, so I won’t.

Terrible timing

A separate Army official told Military.com regarding the downturn of white soldier recruitment:

“What we’re seeing is a reflection of society, what we know less of is what is driving all of these things.”

The writing is clear as day as to what is driving a lack of interest in military service across the board, particularly with white Americans. The military is meant to be a cohesive team or unit.

It’s hard to want to be a part of a team that tells you that you are inherently bad or worse than your fellow soldiers based solely on the color of your skin. Funny, racism tends to be a turn-off for most people – and we used to know that in this country.

At a fundamental and foundational level, the Department of Defense is broken, and it needs a massive overhaul yesterday thanks to the increased tensions worldwide due largely to our government’s hazy foreign policy. The number of active duty service members across all the services decreased by 64,000 in the last three years to 1,284,500, making our military the smallest force it’s been since World War II.

As a former senior military leader, I can tell you that it’s not a great strategic posture to go into any number of brewing conflicts. But what do I know…I’m just a white veteran who hopes her kids don’t join a broken military.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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