Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 103

ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE Redefining the Problem Today, America’s military is a professional, worldclass, highly recruited, volunteer organization widely respected by its society. Its youngest members are well compensated relative to other Americans their age. But the combination of the military, social, and political factors in the strategic environment leads one to conclude that the AVF cannot survive without fundamental redesign. Demonstrably, Congress currently has no fiscal stomach for enlistment bonuses, nor has the president requested them. Policy shifts by DOD (such as opening enlistment to more non-high-school graduates or accepting more medical and moral waivers) can provide limited help to address recruiting sufficient quantity, but conversely may undercut quality of the force. For the AVF’s long-term viability, the military, the political leaders, and the American people must address a deeper underlying problem: the military cannot satisfy its demand for increasingly qualified enlistees due to societal factors. With obesity at 40 percent for youths ages sixteen to twenty-four, mental- and behavioral-health medications prescribed for 34 percent of youths ages thirteen to seventeen, and arrest rates among U.S. youths estimated between 25.3 percent and 41.4 percent by age twenty-three, it is clear that enlistment policy adjustments and increases to compensation, benefits, and enlistment incentives are insufficient to resolve the recruiting challenges.18 The core issue is an increasing societal reluctance, as well as inability for various reasons, among young potential recruits to serve in the military. Quantifying this problem clarifies the core issues and offers a clearer picture of the competition for talent among businesses, colleges, and the military. Figure 1 illustrates the AVF problem using DOD and U.S. Army Recruiting Command data for the 4.1 million Americans turning eighteen in 2015.19 About four of every one hundred of these young Americans are both qualified and willing to serve. Colleges and other postsecondary education and training institutions, the military, and employers vie for them; the military needs at least one to enlist, and traditional colleges will draw at least two of the four. Of the remaining ninety-six, twenty-five are qualified but unwilling to serve, and fifteen are unqualified but willing. Remaining are about fifty-six Americans who are both unwilling and unable to serve More Qualified Qualified but unwilling: 1,000,000 (25%) Willing and qualified: 160,000 (4%) More Willing Less Willing Unwilling and unqualified: 2,240,000 (56%) Willing but unqualified: 600,000 (15%) Less Qualified Figure 1. The All-Volunteer Force's Strategic Problem MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 97