A record low number of America’s youth are eligible for military service, and fewer are considering the military as a career. According to a report from NBC News, every branch of the Department of Defense is struggling to meet its 2022 recruitment quotas. The military is rolling out new tactics to drive recruitment, including exploiting the new Top Gun movie, utilizing TikTok and removing the requirement that soldiers complete high school.
The Pentagon assesses that less than a quarter of young Americans meet the Pentagon’s standards for recruits. Only 23% of citizens aged 17-24 are qualified to serve without a waiver, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said before Congress, noting that the number is declining. In recent years, 29% of 17-24-year-olds were eligible to serve.
NBC News obtained an internal Defense Department survey that found only 9% of qualified citizens want to join the military, the lowest result since 2007. One cause is young Americans do not believe enlisting is in their long-term welfare. Over half of the people polled thought they would have emotional or psychological problems after leaving the military.
The Army is well short of its recruitment goal. With just three months left in the 2022 fiscal year, the branch has met only 40% of its objective. The Army is waiving the requirement that soldiers graduate high school. The Army is also involuntarily extending the assignments of “high-performing” recruiters.
The Navy is focused on using the new movie Top Gun: Maverick to influence young Americans to join. The first Top Gun movie was an effective tool to improve the image of the Navy and boost recruitment. Sailors and airmen set up tables in theaters during Memorial Day weekend to lure potential recruits.
The Department of Defense is considering reversing the ban on TikTok put in place by President Donald Trump. hoping the site could help to propel the numbers. “We have to be where the recruits are, and TikTok is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world,” one defense official said.