Army 'restructuring itself for war' … by cutting 24,000 amid recruiting shortfalls!

Army Pathfinders
Army Pathfinders

Downsizing its force from 494,000 to 470,000 soldiers by fiscal year 2029, the U.S. Army claims it’s preparing its fighting force for future wars. The 24,000-person reduction is being touted as serving to restructure the “largely unmanned ‘hollow’ force structure and build new formations equipped with new capabilities needed for large scale combat operations [as it seeks] a high state of readiness.”

Ironically, with continued recruiting shortfalls in recent years, the Army is also claiming the restructuring effort will help “build back its end strength.” Over the last two fiscal years, the Army missed its recruiting goals by an eye-opening 26,000 recruits – almost the same number it now claims to be intentionally cutting.

WND spoke to Dr. Grant Smith, an Army major stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, who sees “a combination of factors” as responsible for the Army restructuring its force: “They do need to restructure in order to meet changing demands and priorities,” he said, “but they also don’t have enough people to fill certain positions.” As a result, Smith suspects, the nation’s largest land service branch is lowering the bar to meet its actual recruiting results.

But Lt. Col. Rob Lodewick of the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs tells WND that, rather than lowering the bar, senior leaders are “taking a wholistic approach to how we conduct recruiting and are initiating several important transformation efforts and initiatives such as creating specialized recruiting Warrant Officer fields, reviewing potential changes in our enlistment incentives programs, and the planned creation of an Innovation Directorate to leverage cutting-edge recruiting technology and best practices from Department of Defense (DOD) and civilian hiring experts.”

“If the Army wasn’t struggling to recruit,” concedes Smith, “they’d still need to restructure, but would probably seek to increase authorizations to align with rhetoric about being prepared for large-scale combat operations with near peer adversaries.”

However, Smith added: “The implied message is that need is determined by what we can get; [so] if we can’t get enough people, we don’t need as many people,” surmising the Army’s thinking for WND. Moreover, he questioned, “Who in a perfect world would want the Army to be smaller?”

In reality, said Smith, who has been in the Army for 13 years, for those inside the Army, reducing the force structure in this manner “makes it feel like we’re undermanned and understaffed, which undermines our spiritual readiness and our sense of feeling like what we do matters as an organization.”

Without enough soldiers to fill the Army’s available positions, Smith added, “It seems like they’re using this restructuring to pretend like the recruiting and retention issues we’re facing aren’t significant enough to impact our ability to fight and win wars.”

To that end, he pointed out, “The Army is redefining widespread personnel shortages as exactly what we need to make mission.” But he fears that “we really won’t know if this smaller force structure will be able to get the job done until we get tested [in a war]” – and at that point, it might be too late.

“If the Army continues to dwindle away, will we still be able to make a difference for the American people, for the Constitution, for a higher order purpose?” he asked. “Losing the Army as an institution that is occupied by people with a profound and deep respect for the Constitution and rule of law is something I can’t put words to. I don’t know what that looks like for American society.”

Ripple effects to recruiting
In an independent survey conducted by this writer last fall, over 200 individuals currently serving in the U.S. military voluntarily offered their opinions about what they believe has harmed recruiting efforts in recent years. Over 37% of the survey’s 229 participants identified the August 2021 COVID-19 vaccine mandate and enforcement as the No. 1 harm to recruiting. Nearly 31% cited dangerous rhetoric towards traditional American values within the military as the second greatest harm. Another 25% suggested a lack of confidence in military leadership as the third greatest harm.

Moreover, almost 91% of the survey’s participants agreed that DEI training has taken away from training for combat readiness.

“Ultimately, all those factors play into trust and exhibit a lack of accountability,” Maj. Smith said. “Potential recruits will have a hard time putting their trust in an organization that has yet to hold itself accountable for obvious failures.”

The Army’s priority should be “competence and performance” on the battlefield, according to Smith. But, for example, having requested approximately $114 million to finance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in fiscal year 2024, the Department of Defense embarked on something Smith politely calls “counterproductive.”

For Smith, who emphasizes that his views do not reflect those of the Department of Defense or Department of the Army, “DEI is divisive and does nothing for unit cohesion and readiness.” Rather, he argues, DEI initiatives likely harm unit cohesion and readiness, noting there is no evidence to support its use as a means to improve the Army in any way.

This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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