WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The United States is set to enter the new year with its smallest military in over 80 years.
According to the Department of Defense, the Army, Navy and Air Force missed their recruiting goals in 2023 by a combined 41,000 personnel.
“We didn’t get into this problem overnight and it’s not going to be solved overnight,” Pentagon Press Secretary, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said. “But we are confident that we will continue to see those numbers increase and it’s something that will obviously continue to work very hard at.”
Ryder says heading into 2024, the Defense Department’s greatest challenge is recruitment.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” Ryder said. “At the end of the day one of the strengths is that we are an all-volunteer military and each of us here takes the oath of office and the oath to protect and defend the constitution by choice, no one is making us do this.”
But Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) says Congress is partly to blame for the shortfall. Kaine says Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville’s months long hold up of hundreds of military nominations to protest the Pentagon’s abortion policy, has not only turned away new recruits, but pushed active-duty soldiers out.
“Those kinds of things factor into folks thinking as they are trying to decide whether to join the military or whether to stay in the military,” Kaine said. “This is very damaging at a time when we are already seeing recruiting challenges, getting people into the nations all volunteer military.”
Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) says recruiting numbers aren’t going to change until the military knows Congress has its back.
“We need people who are willing to step up, be trained and serve,” Carper said. “And we want to make sure that when they do that, that we will respect them and their families.”
Ryder says in the new year the Pentagon’s recruiting strategy will focus on young Americans who want to make an impact.
“A lot of young people when they talk about the kinds of things they want to do, they want to do something impactful, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Ryder said. “The military is a place where you can do that and so we will continue to try to get that message out and we’ll see where 2024 takes us.”
Source: Fox 8 News Channel