Dr. Mark T. Esper, the USA’s 27th Secretary of Defense has stated that U.S Military’s all-volunteer force (AVF) is slowly dying.
Dr. Esper stated this in an opinion piece written for and published on Fox News. He wrote that after five decades of producing high-quality force, the U.S Military is struggling to meet their recruiting goals like rarely before.
According to the write up seen by Investogist, the U.S Army is said to be the most affected, and it is projected that it will fall short by up to 15,000 soldiers this year, with a larger deficit expected next year.
Experts point to a variety of reasons, such as insufficient pay and benefits, a difficult work life environment, “culture war” issues, Covid-19 and a strong job market. Fixing of these problems the expert say, the core issues driving the AVF’s decline still won’t be reversed.
The fact, Dr. Esper writes is that the pool of Americans aged 17-24 who are qualified and interested in serving continues to shrink.
When I was Secretary of the Army in 2018, 71% of these 34 million young people could not meet the military’s entry requirements due to mostly obesity, drug use, physical and mental health problems, and criminal misconduct.
Foru years later, that number is even higher. Further, of the 23% eligible to serve today, another 10% don’t meet the military’s academic standards.
Worse, of the 3.5 million young Americans remaining, only 9% (~320,000) have a proclivity to serve.
A nation of 332 million people should do better than that, Dr. Esper wrote.
The numbers are all heading in the wrong direction, driven by broader cultural and lifestyle trends and a population unfamiliar with the less than 1% of the U.S. population in uniform that protects them.
Esper argued that when the draft ended in 1973, most young people had a family connection to the armed forces who could explain military life and encourage service to country. That number today, is said to be far lower.
Nearly 80% of today’s service members in America have a family member that served. A situation that has enabled the development of a military caste in the country.
Dr. Mark T. Esper was born on April 26, 1964, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He is a 1986 graduate of the United States Military Academy and received his commission in the Infantry. Upon completion of Ranger and Pathfinder training, he served in the 101st Airborne Division and participated in the 1990-91 Gulf War with the “Screaming Eagles.”
He later commanded a Rifle Company in the 3-325 Airborne Battalion Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2007 after spending 10 years on active duty and 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve.
Mark T. Esper was sworn in as the 27th Secretary of Defense July 23, 2019 and served in that capacity until Nov. 9, 2020. He previously served as Acting Secretary of Defense from June 24, 2019, to July 15, 2019.
Dr. Esper served as the Secretary of the Army from Nov. 20, 2017, to June 24, 2019, and from July 15, 2019, to July 23, 2019.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur