Pentagon Warns Of Military’s Dropping Numbers Heading Into 2024 As U.S. Fields Smallest Fighting Force Since Before WWII
Miami Beach, Florida, Hyundai Air & Sea Show, Military Village vendor, Army soldier recruiter,, Warriors Wanted truck.
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The U.S. Department of Defense is warning Congress of continued military recruitment struggles as the country will enter the new year with its smallest fighting force since before World War II. 

Ashish Vazirani, the Pentagon’s acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness, told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that the Army, Navy, and Air Force missed their 2023 recruitment goals by a combined 41,000 personnel, The Daily Mail reported. The annual defense authorization bill passed by Congress earlier this week stated that active-duty troops will drop to 1,284,500 in fiscal 2024, which is down by 64,000 troops over the past three years, giving the U.S. military its smallest force since 1940, according to the Military Times. 

“That number understates the challenge before us as the services lowered end-strength goals in recent years, in part because of the difficult recruiting environment,” Vazirani said, adding that military recruitment is facing “one of its greatest challenges” since the last declared draft ended in 1973. 

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed his concern over the decreasing military numbers.

“We need a larger force, in every branch. But the reality of recruiting is driving the numbers, not what we actually need,” Wicker told The Military Times. 

Some branches of the armed forces have gone to more extreme lengths recently to boost their recruitment levels. Earlier this year, the Navy made Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, an active-duty sailor and drag queen, one of five Navy Digital Ambassadors in a pilot recruitment program. The Air Force made a move in April to recruit more Americans into its ranks by decreasing weight standards. 

The strategies didn’t appear to work, as both the Navy and the Air Force are expected to be down thousands of airmen and sailors from its 2021 numbers. The Army is facing the largest recruitment problem out of the military branches as it’s down over 40,000 troops over the past three years. The Marine Corps, which along with the Space Force met its most recent recruitment goal, is still expected to be down by nearly 9,000 active-duty service members compared to fiscal year 2021. 

The Pentagon is seeking to change the direction of the military’s poor recruiting numbers by developing a message that “resonates” with young Americans, according to Vazirani.


“While the picture of the current recruiting environment is acutely difficult, the Defense Department and the military services are working together to resolve issues, improve processes, and expand awareness of the many opportunities military service offers,” said Vazirani. “We must reach today’s youth where they are with a message that resonates with them and motivates them to act.”

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