Almost completely along partisan lines, the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the House of Reps. 219-210. It authorizes a record $886 billion in spending for the Pentagon, which may top $900 billion if all the unfunded priorities, also known as “wish list” items are met.
Alongside the internationally-minded intelligence agencies, the care and feeding of the nuclear weapons stockpile nested in the Department of Energy budget, and the share of interest on the national debt from past military expenditures, the total military spending for the United States is hundreds of billions more.
In the face of all this cash, reports say that all branches of the US military will miss recruiting targets as part of a “critical” recruitment crisis. The 2024 NDAA includes a 5.2% pay raise for military personnel, the largest raise in 20 years.
Despite that, insufficient pay is one of the main reasons cited for potential recruits opting for the private sector, alongside shoddy housing facilities, perceived physical abuse, worry over the skyrocketing rates of suicide and PTSD among service members, and perhaps most importantly, the discouraging from families and veterans who cannot escape the feeling that the last 22 years of war in places like Iraq and Afghanistan were all for nothing.
Nearly 80% of Army recruits have a relative that has served in the military—it’s been one of the most common motivations for joining over the decades. But trust in the military, according to the Ronald Reagan Institute, has never been lower, with the majority of Americans not believing the US military can protect them, and a two-thirds majority believing the military acts according to political motivations.
On top of that there are simply more young Americans than ever who are not eligible for service because of various issues including physical fitness, drug use, a criminal record, or education level.
Wokeness in the military and other concerns
All this has compounded to create a situation whereby the Army, Navy, and Air Force are missing their recruiting quotas by an estimated 28,000 cadets, a similar number as the misses from last year.
“Parents have concerns about, hey if my kid joins the military, are they going to have good places to live? … If my kid joins the military, are they going to be sexually harassed, or are they going to be more prone to suicidal ideations?” US Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said earlier this year in Congressional Testimony.
Another factor that has been suggested is the disillusionment of potential recruits by the Armed Services’ attempts to institute “woke” policies, such as affirmative action policy for race, or covering the cost of gender reassignment surgery for recruits.
This led one former Army and Marine Corps Sgt. Daniel McKnight to lead a petition demanding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s resignation for prioritizing woke policy over military preparedness. Sgt. McKnight, Founder of Bring Our Troops Home, which organizes state-level legislature to prevent the military from using the National Guard to fight in foreign wars without a declaration of war from Congress, told WaL that he never expected the petition to gain much traction, but enjoyed using his platform to try and hold the “SECDEF” to account for his needless focus on the culture war. WaL
PICTURED ABOVE: Multi-service U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square – CC 3.0. Pumpkin Sky