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.
More from CNAS
CommentaryImplementing Women, Peace, and Security Guidance to Systematically Combat Gender-Based Violence in the Military
By institutionalizing a culture that respects the perspectives of everyone who serves, the military advances preventative measures to address sexual harassment and assault....
By Dr. Kyleanne Hunter & Emma Moore
CommentaryThe Trans Ban Is Gone but More Needs To Be Done
Simply lifting the ban isn’t enough to counteract the discrimination transgender service members and veterans continue to face....
By Nathalie Grogan
CommentaryNow Is a Bad Time to Weaken Civilian Control Over the Military
The mob attacks on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are a sudden reminder of just how vital a nonpartisan military really is—even in the United States....
By Jim Golby
CommentaryHow to build more resilient and innovative US special operations teams
The military is looking for the wrong solutions to support the force....
By Lt Col Kaveri T. Crum & Emma Moore