The United States still holds the title of the international superpower regarding military strength. The U.S. “reportedly owns 92 destroyers, 11 aircraft carriers, 13,300 aircraft and 983 attack helicopters,” according to The Defense Post. “It also has the largest budget at $886 billion among all the countries in the list.”

However, at the end of 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it was struggling with setting recruitment goals. So much, in fact, that Army Maj. Gen. Johnny K. Davis, commanding general of the Army Recruiting Command, said, “(It is) one of the toughest recruiting landscapes I’ve seen in over 33 years of service.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. military announced a 5% jobs cut, hoping to restructure the service to better prepare for future wars:

“The Army is not asking current soldiers to leave. As the Army builds back end strength over the next few years, most installations will likely see an increase in the number of soldiers actually stationed there,” the Army said, per Fox News.

“Most of the jobs being slashed are related to counterinsurgency positions that grew during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but are not in high demand today,” Fox News added — emphasizing that many of the cuts are positions that currently sit vacant.

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Why is the military struggling to recruit?

The most significant deterrent to youth, when asked what their fears were regarding joining the military, is the fear of emotional and physical trauma, according to a survey by USA Facts.

The top five reasons youth choose not to enlist:

  1. Fear of physical injury/death.
  2. Fear of getting PTSD.
  3. Not being close to family and friends.
  4. Interest in other career options.
  5. The military lifestyle seems unappealing.

“We know that America’s youth have a historically low level of interest in military service and enjoy a highly favorable job market, which makes it even more difficult to recruit and retain highly skilled personnel,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said, per USA Facts.

The Army isn’t the only service struggling to reach recruitment goals. The Air Force and Navy also failed to meet their goals, with only the Space Force and Marine Corps meeting their recruitment targets.

With a goal of 65,000, the Army fell short by only recruiting a little over 50,000 new members in the last fiscal year. In 2022, “the Army also missed its enlistment goal by 15,000. That year, the goal was 60,000,” according to ABC News.

In an effort to gain more service men and women, “the service launched a sweeping overhaul of its recruiting last fall to focus more on young people who have spent time in college or are job hunting early in their careers. And it is forming a new professional force of recruiters, rather than relying on soldiers randomly assigned to the task,” ABC News added.