April 26, 2020

Third order effects of coronavirus on military recruiting and retention

By Emma Moore

The COVID-19 pandemic will have yet-to-be-seen effects on military recruitment and retention in the short- and long-term. Every month during which recruiting is paused or slowed has ripple effects on force readiness down the line.

It is imperative the Department of Defense (DOD) put comprehensive and consistent measures in place now to protect readiness, maintain the training pipeline, and protect the force. Each of the services are responding in real time to the crisis, and each will grapple with how their response affects personnel.

The military personnel system does not have a lot of excess capacity, and the long-term impacts of initial reactions have yet to fully play out. Small delays have oversize impact on the force due to the military’s high rate of annual turnover. Major General Lenny Richoux, director for personnel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged that stay-at-home orders will “have somewhat of a corrosive effect on our ability to have the numbers of people that we really need.” Current expectations show a spike in cases through summer 2020 and that true suppression of the virus may require 18 months (or more) of effort. Even as the United States passes peak cases and deaths, military activity will not be able to resume as normal: Initial training and joint exercises will still pose a risk in the near-term.

Read the full article in The Hill.

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