April 10, 2024

NATO Doesn’t Have Enough Troops

Source: Foreign Policy

Journalist: Jack Detsch

The biggest factor that has driven down recruitment, experts think, is the lack of an existential U.S. national security threat. “We’re victims of our own success,” said Kate Kuzminski, director of the military, veterans, and society program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a Washington think tank. “The sense of existential threat is not necessarily as strong as it used to be, which is a good thing, but it leads to some challenges when it comes to recruitment.”

The U.S. military missed its recruiting target by more than 41,000 people last year. The active-duty U.S. military is smaller than it has been in over 80 years. The British Army has fallen short of its targets every year since 2010. And Germany’s Bundeswehr shrank by 1,500 military personnel last year, despite a massive recruitment drive. Even Ukraine, which is outside of the NATO alliance, has had to drop its conscription age from 27 to 25 to bring on enough troops to help fight off a Russian invasion on its soil.

Russia has adjusted its conscription age, raising the maximum age at which someone can be conscripted form 27 to 30, but the Kremlin has also taken action on the other end of the spectrum: raising the service age to re-conscript old soldiers. “So you’ve got retired generals who’ve been drinking for the last 30 years being conscripted back into service,” Kuzminski said.


“Particularly for the China scenario, all signals indicate that they’re terrified of a protracted conflict,” Kuzminski said. “What draft mobilization in the U.S. signals is that we have the ability and the willingness to engage in a protracted conflict, which hopefully is the thing that keeps them from pulling the trigger in the first place.”

Read the full story and more from Foreign Policy.


  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Deputy Director of Studies, Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is the Deputy Director of Studies, and the Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research special...