…like an unskilled doctor, fallen ill, you lose heart and cannot discover by which remedies to cure your own disease.”
—Aeschylus, “Prometheus Bound”
There are two paths one may take to make any given population more diverse: (1) the path of inclusion, increasing the minority population, or (2) the path of exclusion, decreasing the majority population.
Guess which path the United States Army is treading to achieve its diversity objectives?
“Black recruits have gone from 20% to 24% of the pool, and Hispanic recruits have risen from 17% to 24%,” Military.com reported last week, “with both groups seeing largely flat recruiting totals but increasing as a percentage of incoming soldiers as white recruiting has fallen.” [Emphasis added.]
Now the Army acts as if this wasn’t their objective. They would rather frame their victory for diversity as a failure in recruitment – one due to a wicked mix of pathologies in the white male population of the United States.
More from the Military.com report:
“The rate at which white recruitment has fallen far outpaces nationwide demographic shifts, data experts and Army officials interviewed by Military.com noted. They don't see a single cause to the recruiting problem, but pointed to a confluence of issues for Army recruiting, including partisan scrutiny of the service, a growing obesity epidemic and an underfunded public education system.”
Internally, some Army planners are alarmed over the data trends, but see it as a minefield to navigate given increasing partisan attacks against the military for its efforts to recruit and support a diverse force, according to interviews with several service officials.
Among other problems, opioid overdoses have increasingly pummeled the U.S. every year, with 80,000 deaths in 2021 and about 75% of overdose victims being white and many in their twenties, according to data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
And some Army officials interviewed by Military.com pointed to struggles by recruits from the South to meet service standards, though there are no indications that recruits from the South are disproportionately white."
Translation: We tried, but all these fat, stupid, white, drug-addicted, Southern, partisan bigots just don’t want to join the Army for some reason.
Instead of blaming the population they’re aiming to recruit (while also somehow making that population a smaller share of the military’s overall population for diversity’s sake), the Army should engage in more self-reflection. Even with the best-made plans “the enemy gets a vote,” but I suspect if the Army looked long and hard they would eventually glimpse the enemy in their mirror.
“I believe that the Army fails to meet its recruiting goals not because of a challenging market environment,” writes Army Colonel Justin Overbaugh, “but rather because a sizable portion of the American public has lost trust in it and no longer sees it as an institution worthy of personal investment.”
"Unfortunately, anyone considering service today can look to myriad examples of the Army failing to meet their end of the bargain. Whether it is a lack of adequate and safe housing for soldiers and their families, the persistence of sexual assault, an inability to address suicide rates or to accurately account for property and funds — or even to develop a comprehensive physical fitness test — the Army, and the Department of Defense more broadly, consistently fail to achieve results.
But these shortcomings, while disastrous, pale in comparison to the Army’s ultimate failure: the failure to win wars.
Instead of flailing about trying to overcome challenging market dynamics, therefore, the Army should immediately commit to fixing itself. It can start by admitting its significant failures and its baffling inability to be honest with the American public about them. There are plenty of retired officers who have had public epiphanies about these systematic failures, but this kind of candor and responsibility needs to propagate among currently serving senior officials across the defense enterprise and the political establishment.
Once honesty is re-established as a core value, and the Army has come to grips with the fact that it failed, it can then begin to explore the reason why.
Simply put, the Army fails because it is set up to fail. It was asked to accomplish objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq that it could not possibly hope to achieve."
Perhaps the diversity agenda wasn’t an optimal mission for an Army already doomed to fail in its military missions – set up to fail by a political establishment obsessed with appearing virtuous while possessing no virtù nor foresight.
Perhaps taking the path of exclusion to achieve diversity wasn’t an unintended consequence at all. The Army could have been more inclusive by aiming to recruit more members of minority groups – but maybe that was never really the plan.
Maybe, just like in recent theaters of war, the U.S. Army was set up to fail by being encouraged to succeed down the wrong road.
The U.S. Army can blame their failures on the people they hope to serve if they like. The American people’s maladies are certainly not few. There is much blame to go around for America’s decadence and decay.
Nonetheless, if the U.S. Army wants better recruitment numbers — white, black, brown, male, female or otherwise — I say “physician, heal thyself.”
Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and is currently the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. His column appears every Tuesday in 1819 News. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback, please email [email protected]. Follow him on X @TheJoeyClark or watch the radio show livestream.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].
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