The U.S. Army is reluctantly cutting its active-duty forces in the coming years due to recruitment difficulties, a first-of-its-kind step, as per some experts in the military field. The Army announced in March that the end strength or total force strength is expected to decrease from 485,000 active-duty soldiers to 476,000 by the fiscal year 2022 ending in September, then further drop to 473,000 by the fiscal year 2023. This would mark its lowest level since World War II, according to the Military Times.
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-IN) called the issue “more serious than any recruiting challenge that I've experienced in the years that I've been here.” Inhofe pointed out that in the year 2018, Army General Staff Chief General Mark Milley testified that the Army had a goal of getting close to 500,000. And Chief of Staff General James C. McConville in the past has stated that he believed the figure should be between 540,000 and 550,000.
McConville was asked, “Is it still your best military judgment that we require an Army greater than 500,000?”
McConville replied, “Well, Senator, I think we need a bigger Army. I stand by the comments I made before.” He also said that he was not looking to decrease standards to ensure that the strength of the final product was still high. “I also think quality is more important than quantity,” he stated. “Right now, 83 percent of the young men and women that are coming into the Army are coming from military family members and, you know, it's nice that it's the military family business. We need this to be an American family business. We need to attract others. We need to expose others to the benefits of serving their country… Again, what we're finding right now is [that] 23 percent of Americans are qualified to serve in the military. So we have to do some work in our high schools, and we have to do some work in preparing young men and women to come 'cause I don't think there's any better way to serve, and I think we need to have a call to service.”
The recruiting challenges are occurring despite the Army having launched a campaign specifically aimed at Generation Z featuring cartoons of actual soldiers who were either females or racial minorities.
Retired Army Lieutenant. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for National Defense, said in a recent Breitbart News interview, “There is a sense among the American public that the military is becoming increasingly political and that topics such as race and gender equity, critical race theory, and wokeism in general are commanding more attention, at the cost of readiness.”
While the Army is having difficulty recruiting, it is preparing to remove thousands of soldiers due to their not following the Biden Administration's vaccine policy. Many of them have sought religious exemptions to the mandate so they can remain in the military; however, only a few have been granted, typically to military personnel who are currently in the process of taking permanent leaves.