What to make of America's military recruitment problem

“The Biden administration’s military Covid-19 vaccine mandate is a primary cause of recruitment problems, but it’s a symptom of a bigger issue: the politicization of our military,” said Johnson. “Potential recruits look at the Pentagon’s focus on social issues — while glaring errors are being made, such as the failed withdrawal in Afghanistan — and they are understandably left to wonder whether the priorities of the top brass are misplaced.”

Representative Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) agreed with Johnson’s assertion that Covid-vaccine hesitancy and the politicization of the Pentagon are at least in part to blame for recruitment problems, but he also offered “skyrocketing rates of obesity and mental-health issues” and “an extremely tight labor market.”

Gallagher, the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel, said that “thus far the Pentagon has offered neither a compelling analysis of what is driving this phenomenon nor a coherent plan for fixing the problem before it gets worse.” He also critiqued military leaders for waiving the high-school-diploma requirement for enlistees, calling it “at best a temporary Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound and at worst a signal that we are willing to accept lower standards.”