With the 50th anniversary of the United States’ All-Volunteer Force this summer, and the current recruiting crisis potentially impacting force readiness, military personnel policy will determine how the services operate for the next half-century. What are the challenges impacting military recruitment, and how should the various branches and Department of Defense respond? CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation around military personnel policy and the ongoing recruiting crisis. Read the latest edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.
Recruitment, Retention, and Quality of Life in the Force with the Hon. Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army
On Friday, November 18, the Center for a New American Security hosted a virtual conversation between the Honorable Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army, and Katherine Kuzminski, Senior Fellow and Director of the CNAS Military, Veterans, and Society program, to discuss Army recruitment, retention, and quality of life in the force.
Generations of War: The Rise of the Warrior Caste and the All-Volunteer Force
There is a widening gulf in the United States today between the public and those who serve in the military and fight the nation’s wars. Though the populace expresses a great deal of trust in the military, the number of citizens with a direct connection to the military is shrinking, suggesting that respect for the military is inversely proportional to participation in it. A report from Amy Schafer examines the creation of a warrior caste system, and the associated risks and benefits, along with a set of recommendations on widening beyond the warrior caste.
Women in Combat: Five-Year Status Update
It has been eight years since the ban on women in combat was lifted in 2015 and women began integrating previously closed combat arms billets in January 2016. A policy brief from Emma Moore examines the status of women in combat at the five-year mark to explore integration across components and to see returns on recruitment and retention.
AVF 4.0: The Future of the All-Volunteer Force
In early 2016, CNAS launched its “AVF 4.0” project—an effort to sketch out visions of the future All-Volunteer Force, and design its components to meet the nation’s needs 10, 20, 30, even 50 years into the future. This paper represents the product of a year-long working group series and research. It articulates the strategic challenges facing the AVF and defines the problem statement regarding the need for personnel reform. This Summer, CNAS will launch an in-depth report analyzing the AVF at its 50 year anniversary, and seek to understand the "Force of the Future."
Bad Idea: Relying on the Same Old Solutions to Meet the Military Recruitment Challenge
"The U.S. military is facing the worst recruiting crisis since the creation of the All-Volunteer Force (AVF) nearly fifty years ago in July 1973," observe Katherine L. Kuzminski and Tom Spoehr in Defense360. "In FY 2022, the Army missed its recruiting goals by nearly 20 thousand soldiers—nearly 25 percent of the service’s recruiting goal. While the other services were able to meet their FY 2022 recruiting targets, they did so by drawing on delayed entry recruits—those recruits with signed contracts who were not expected to enter service until FY 2023—indicating that the challenges experienced in FY 2022 may only increase in the coming year. Early indications are that FY 2023 is as bad or worse."
Stop Holding Recruits to One-Size-Fits-All Standards
"If the U.S. military is to attract highly tech-skilled recruits for modern warfare, its recruiting philosophies must evolve," argue LCDR Stewart Latwin and Lt Col Ernest “Nest” Cage in Defense One. "'We need data scientists, coders and engineers as much as we need pilots, submariners and infantry,' the secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. But they are still recruiting under the old vision that every soldier needs to have the physical abilities of a frontline infantryman. The services need to let go of this antiquated requirement; they must also consider what billets can be better filled by Defense Department civilians."
It’s Time for the Military to Rethink Entrance Examinations
"Since 1968, the military has used the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, to assess all incoming recruits," writes LCDR Stewart Latwin in Military Times. "This single test predicts academic skills and determines what military occupational specialty, or MOS, the recruit is qualified to perform in their service. However, these evaluations are subject to bias, such a race or income inequality, and don’t accurately measure a recruit’s aptitude to perform a job. In short, they focus on mathematical and verbal skills that aren’t indicative of actual intelligence or the ability to learn. By including a series of practical, task-based evaluations and redesigning the academic exam to test ability to perform a skill and not simply academic knowledge, the ASVAB can become a better assessment of a recruit’s aptitude — and potentially their career success."
The Unsung Hero of Social Mobility
"While politicos and pundits debate the state of social and economic mobility in America, one overlooked organization is doing heroic work to lift its more than 2 million workers into the middle class and promote human flourishing," writes Tobias Switzer in Profectus. "Hiring most of its employees right out of high school, this organization provides extensive skills training, college and graduate school tuition subsidies, complete health care and dental benefits, defined contribution and benefit retirement plans, and high wages. Additionally, it offers its workers world-class development in non-cognitive skills such as conscientiousness, perseverance, and teamwork. Its employees are among the best at problem-solving and performing under pressure, and society greatly respects their contributions. This company goes by many names, but most know it as the United States military."
In the News
Featuring commentary from Katherine Kuzminski and Tobias Switzer.
About the Sharper Series
The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.
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