Army Navy Woke Agenda

Go Woke, Become Weak: The Consequences of Lowering Military Recruiting Standards, from a former Commander’s Perspective

By LTC Darin Gaub, USA, ret.

The American military in which I served for twenty-eight years continues to struggle to meet recruiting goals. I am not surprised. The Biden administration’s ongoing pursuit of ‘progressive’ (regressive) policies comes at a hefty price that cannot be ignored.

The problem is so bad they are resorting to lowering recruiting standards to meet the need. This is abnormal for an American military that is not at war. The last time the military’s standards were reduced like this was at the height of the dual conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I had a front-row seat to the consequences of lowered standards, both as a commander in combat zones and as a trainer.

Are We at War?

Again, we are not at war; or are we? I would say we are in a war, but an internal one over the future of our own country. The military is part of that war, and we should not be experimenting with readiness, but we are, to our shame. The military serves one purpose, to win our nation’s wars. It should not serve as a giant laboratory for ideological indoctrination. The price of failure is too high.

America’s military is a cultural microcosm of our society. Big city kids from Los Angeles, farm kids from the mid-west, black-brown-red-white, each with their own motivations for joining. Some join for college money, some for adventure, others to escape a previous reality, and many to fulfill a desire to serve the nation they love.

The attacks on servicemembers by their own chain of command seem to be intentional and designed to reduce our readiness as a nation. This is part of the internal war.

Who will not join?

The kind of recruits the military needs are the same kind who have no desire to sit in a classroom and be told they are racist, sexist, misogynist, or any other kind of ‘ist. Our military needs people who are physically fit and mentally capable of combat in harsh environments. They should not be filling out paperwork identifying their pronouns. These are the kind of recruits who love this country and cannot see enlisting in this environment. I cannot blame them.

Who will join? 

There are great people still joining the military. They keep their heads down and focus on the mission while waiting for a leadership climate more focused on readiness and excellence. They pray for something new in 2024. This also means there are many joining who are willing to take part in the indoctrination and might even embrace it.

Those who embrace the woke culture are typically not your warfighters. This causes problems for commanders who are tasked with training their people for combat and building the best team they can in a political environment focused on pronouns, diversity, equity, inclusion, and the apparent targeting of patriotic people for removal.

How Does Lowering Recruiting Standards Impact Readiness?

1.  Every time standards are lowered recruits who otherwise could not join flood the recruiting centers, fill basic training slots, then move out to active, reserve, or national guard units. Here they often cause more problems because the issues they had prior to enlistment are magnified in the high-paced and stressful military environment.

2. Commanders tasked with building combat-ready teams spend much of their time dealing with those problems. They spend a lot less time on training and readiness as a result.

3. The recruits who have the problems get waivers to join because those tasked with meeting recruiting numbers are only responsible for signing them to a contract and rarely deal with that same recruit a year later. In recruiting command, the goal is quantity over quality.

4. Commanders who would rather have eighty percent of their units filled with high-quality servicemembers are forced into accepting new recruits with problems. Their units look like they are one hundred percent filled on paper, but the reality is commanders are forced to spend eighty percent of their time on the twenty percent with the greatest number of problems. This is time-consuming, and the eighty percent see the command focused on the biggest problems, not the biggest contributors. The same twenty percent usually end up being removed from service for a variety of reasons and it can take a long time. All these factors kill the morale of the unit and cause the quality to leave rather than re-enlist. In the worst case, something I have personally experienced, the unit is scheduled to deploy, and the same twenty percent must stay home. The American taxpayer just spent thousands of dollars training somebody who cannot do their job. Commanders seek quality over quantity, the opposite of the recruiting mentality.

What can be done?

1. Elect a different Commander in Chief, one who respects the military and understands its importance.

2. Eliminate the vaccine mandate for all servicemembers. No, the most recently signed NDAA did not accomplish that for all.

3. Eliminate all Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training requirements and offices/positions.

4. Raise recruiting standards, don’t lower them. Quality often matters more than quantity. Quality builds great teams, quantity builds a stack of paperwork and wastes time and money.

5. Diversify incentives. Servicemembers join for many reasons, not always financial.

6. Teach the meaning of the oath and the U.S. Constitution, as originally written and intended.

The military needs to be an organization recognized for having the highest standards. This creates a culture of excellence where servicemembers know they are part of the elite and are expected to perform that way. Lowering standards does not work, it creates more and bigger problems.

Lt Col (ret), US Army, Darin Gaub is Co-founder of Restore Liberty, an international military strategist and foreign policy analyst, an executive leadership coach, and serves on the boards of multiple volunteer national and state level organizations. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, or its components.



First published on Armed Forces Press


Recruitment crisis forces Army to expand boot camp, preparing flabby future soldiers for basic training (BizPac Review, 12 Jan 23)
The United States Army took a serious hit to recruitment last year, something they’re trying to come back from by expanding a program to prepare out-of-shape applicants for basic training.

As the world stares down Russian and Chinese aggression, military preparedness is at the forefront of the country’s mind. Unfortunately, 2022 saw the Army fail to meet its 60,000 soldier enlistment goal by a shocking 15,000. In an effort to bolster its numbers, top brass announced the expansion of the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, a boot camp for out-of-shape recruits who want to meet the fitness requirements maintained by the military.

The program will feature three extra companies in hopes to whip those who may not have normally made the cut into shape before basic.

According to Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, the military is not sacrificing quality for quantity with this program, but is simply allowing otherwise underqualified applicants to meet their “unrealized potential.” It is specifically aimed at candidates who don’t meet the weight requirements and have 2-6 percent more body fat than the Army deems acceptable. . . . (Read more at BizPac Review)

Army expands program for recruits who don’t meet weight and test requirements as recruiting crisis deepens (Fox News, 11 JAN 23)
The U.S. Army is expanding a pre-basic training course that allows candidates to enlist who do not meet the weight and aptitude requirements in an effort to fight a recruiting crisis plaguing every branch of the military.

An initial pilot for the program at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in August was open to recruits who had 6% more body fat than Army standards or had scored between 21 and 30 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.

Now, the Army will launch four additional companies, two of which will be at Fort Jackson and another two at Fort Benning, Georgia, allowing room for 2,000 additional recruits per year at Fort Jackson and a total of 6,400 recruits per year at Fort Benning. . . .

. . . . The Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy also had recruiting struggles of their own, barely meeting the minimum requirement but forcing the branches to dip into their pools of Delayed Entry Program applicants and digging themselves a hole ahead of 2023.

The Marines entered fiscal year 2023 having only accounted for 30% of its recruiting goal, 20% short of the amount with which the service usually enters a new recruiting year. The Air Force faced a similar struggle, having met only 10% of its 2023 target compared to the 25% it typically enters a new recruiting year with. That number was shared by the Navy. . . . (read more)

A New Medal and Revised Marketing Tactics Part of Army’s Fight Against Recruiting Slump (, 11 JAN 23)
The Army is putting the finishing touches on a new ribbon to be awarded to soldiers who help convince someone to join the service, three sources with direct knowledge of the plans told It’s unclear when the medal will start to be awarded. Army officials and recruiters interviewed by say there is no silver bullet to the recruiting slump the service saw last year, when it came up 15,000 active-duty soldiers short of its goal of bringing in 60,000 new recruits. The Army National Guard is in even deeper trouble. Right now, the service doesn’t have any easy answers on how it can change the recent trajectory and attract new recruits. . . . (read more)

The Navy will now enlist recruits who score 10 on their ASVAB (Task & Purpose, 6 DEC 22)
A new policy will allow for more recruits who score between the 10th and 30th percentile of the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

Joining the Navy just got a little bit easier. Under new guidelines announced Monday, the Navy will now accept up to 7,500 new sailors who score between the 10th and 30th percentile of the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT. These future sailors would be so-called “Category IV” recruits, and up to 20% of the upcoming year’s enlistees could fall into this category.

“As we continue to navigate a challenging recruiting environment, changing the AFQT requirement removes a potential barrier to enlistment, allowing us to widen the pool of potential recruits and creating opportunities for personnel who wish to serve,” Cmdr. David Benham, a spokesperson for Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, told on Monday.

The AFQT, which measures word knowledge, reading comprehension, arithmetic reasoning and mathematics knowledge, is just one part of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB. The AFQT is graded on a scale of all test takers — in other words, instead of a grade, an applicant is ranked in a percentile of how well they did relative to everyone else taking the test. . . . (read more)

Navy to begin accepting more recruits from lowest aptitude percentile amid deepening recruiting crisis (Fox News, 6 DEC 22)
The U.S. Navy is set to begin accepting more recruits who score in the lowest aptitude percentile allowed on military entrance tests. As we continue to navigate a challenging recruiting environment, changing the AFQT requirement removes a potential barrier to enlistment, allowing us to widen the pool of potential recruits and creating opportunities for personnel who wish to serve,” Cmdr. David Benham, a spokesperson for Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, told in a report Monday. The new Navy guidelines will allow the service to enlist 7,500 recruits that fall into “Category IV,” which are applicants with a high school diploma who scored within the 10th and 30th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) . . . (read more)

Inside the Pentagon’s shameful effort to draft mentally disabled men to fight in Vietnam (Task & Purpose, 3 May 22)

In 1967, a young man named Johnny Gupton was drafted into the Army to fight in Vietnam. Gupton didn’t know how to read or write; he didn’t even know what state he was from. He had never heard of Vietnam. When a fellow soldier questioned a noncommissioned officer (NCO) about how someone with such an obvious mental disability could join the Army, the NCO responded, “Ehh, he’s one of McNamara’s Morons.”

This is what soldiers like Gupton were known as throughout the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War era. In 1967, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara lowered military recruiting standards as part of a program called Project 100,000. Its goal, as the name suggests, was to recruit 100,000 men each year who were otherwise mentally, physically or psychologically underqualified for service. These men all had IQs below 91, and nearly half had IQs below 71. From the Project’s launch in 1966, through its termination in 1971, it allowed 354,000 previously ineligible men into the military. Of these, 5,478 died in combat and 20,270 were wounded.

These men were aggressively recruited and pushed through training without having met even the bare minimum of standards set for them. They were sent into combat in large numbers and many died. They were promised greater benefits and opportunities as an incentive to join the military, but those who returned alive came home to broken promises and were abandoned by the government. It’s a largely forgotten and shameful chapter in American history.

Robert McNamara and the Johnson Administration sold Project 100,000 as an expansion of Great Society welfare programs where poor, mentally disabled men could learn important life skills. Labor Secretary Daniel Moynihan said, “Expectations of what can be done in America are receding. Our best hope is to use the Armed Forces as a socializing experience for the poor.”

This is how the idea was sold to the public, but there is a much more obvious reason to aggressively recruit mentally disabled soldiers. As the war raged on, more and more Americans were needed to fight in Vietnam each year.

Children of the affluent middle class could avoid the draft by seeking an educational deferment (like Dick Cheney) or by finding a friendly doctor to get a medical deferment (like Donald Trump). McNamara and Johnson were faced with a choice; they could end draft deferments for college students and send children of the affluent to war in a country most Americans could not yet find on a map, or they could start signing up a lot more mentally disabled people. Guess which one they chose? . . . . (read more)

What People Are Saying

(comments on the articles)

“My family has a long history of serving that goes back generations, both mother and father are vets. My older brother in the Army hates it. The wokieness is terrible, he’s had to attend a number of CRT sessions – one where he had to wear an “oppressor” sign around his neck for the day. He said it’s all very humiliating and has created bad morale. Despite wanting it since I was a kid, I decided I’ll find another way to help my country. I’m not joining an organization that will treat me with contempt for who I am. Very saddened by what has happened I’m not sure we win wars.”

“The military has lost it’s way and no longer has sight of it’s mission. The woke policies of the last several years has resulted in a major decline in readiness. Armies of our adversaries are much stronger physically and mentally because they focus on the realities of war, not gender issues and making sure some soldiers feel guilty for what their ancient ancestors did.”

“I was in the Navy many decades ago. There is no way I would join today. There are many in my peer group who feel the same. That should give everyone pause. The Armed Forces of this nation are what keep this nation safe, and it is a very dangerous job. Get rid of the woke insanity in the Military and recruitment will go up.”

“I served 13 years in the US Army, including time as a basic training officer. I would not be able to tolerate these new “woke” requirements. The service has to be shaken up from the top down.”

“I served 20 as an Infantryman, retired as a 1SG. I want my son to serve one, 3 year stint as a character Builder. But not in this trash service created by Dems.”

“I used to encourage people to join the Navy. Not anymore.”

“If you’re still wondering why the Army is 25 percent short of it’s recruiting goals, and the National Guard is losing people, and now the Navy is short of personnel, look no further. Despite my 35 years of service, I would not encourage anyone to join the service under the leadership put in place by this regime. They will not support the troops or appreciate the sacrifices those troops make following the foolish demands of their woke leaders. Who wants to be constantly told they have to step aside and watch others get promoted because of diversity, not merit? Many soldiers join the guard after a tour of active service, but the experience of active duty is no longer a positive one for many. Also, The regime underestimates the impact of older and retired veterans influence on their children and the young people who they come into contact with.”

“You say there’s a recruiting crisis? What?? You mean most people don’t want to join a military that is woke and immoral, and which enforces and defends an out of control and equally immoral Federal government? I’m shocked, just shocked!”

“Part of the problem today is the kids are taught to hate the military and their country. There is no sense of pride to serve.”

“This is horrible. The standards are too low now. Especially for the ASVAB. If someone cannot score at least 30 on the asvab, they have no business in the military. It isn’t like the military has ANY real grunt jobs any more. Even infantry members have to deal with a lot more than shooting a rifle. They need to be proficient with all the tech gear that the military employs today. I was an Army recruiter in the late 90s and I know what caliber of kid cannot score over 30 on the ASVAB. They are not they kind of kid I would want to go to war with and need to depend on in a bad situation. ”

“I was in the Army in the early 70s. We ran in formation (or not) in fatigues and combat boots. The past 30 years PT is conducted and tested in PT uniforms and athletic shoes. Yeah, right and that’s the uniform our troops will fight in under fire and dire circumstances? I’m in my 70s and can still knock out 50 pushups and 30 sit ups. Before I retired, I could still outrun, out pushup and out sit up, plus weight qualification for my age bracket (in my 50s, I was a career SNCO) against men 20 years younger (in their age bracket) than myself at the time. Stop lowering the standards with this idiocy and nonsense. It is a privilege to serve and wear a U.S. Armed Forces uniform, not a right!”

“Under this administration, if you don’t have the skills (physical & mental), ability, intelligence, etc. to meet the standards, that’s okay, we’ll just lower the standards. The folks joining the military today, just as in the past, should strive to do more. If the requirement is an 8 minute mile, do it in 7. Just don’t be average. Anyone can be average. We should expect and demand excellence, period. If you want average, go elsewhere.”

“The military went woke in the 1990’s. If you are in, get out. If you are not in, stay out. Let Trudeau and Biden go fight. I served as an officer in the US Navy in the 2000’s and it was horrible, wokeness, political correctness. (N)ever (A)gain (V)olunteer (Y)ourself. If you are an American and a patriot its not worth serving. You can get all the training you want or need on the civilian side.”

“As a proud 20 year US Army retiree, I do not, did not and will not encourage my grand children and great grandchildren to join todays military. That fact saddens me, yet my love for these children is greater than the saddness.”

“In my 21 years in the US Air Force we concentrated on cohesion. In training, combat or contingency operation, your life depended on the men and women around you who worked as a team. Your combat effectivness (and life) depended on that shared mission. Inject “identity politics” into the equation destroys unit integrity and reduces the ability of the unit to successfully compete its mission. Like everything else in the Biden Administration the objective is to destroy America as she existed.”

“I know 5 kids, all Christians, who told me over the Christmas break, they were going to join the military after graduation but due to what the Biden Administration has done, they have changed their minds and will not join now.”

“It is so sad to what our military has become. I saw this 10 years ago before I retired from the military. People who couldn’t do there jobs were promoted because no one had the guts to get rid of them. Numbers you know. Some even made it to General. So much touchy feely policies now. So much wasted time on trying not to offend someone that there isn’t any good training happening.”

“How can you expect young people to enlist to defend a country that they have been taught to hate in school and by athletes kneeling for the National Anthem?”

“A tight jobs market usually increases recruiting, since service is seen as a hedge against unemployment for many. Having worked in and around DoD for 25 years and watching the mass exodus of E-7 to E-9 and O-4 to O-6 take retirement earlier than expected, I can emphatically say that it is due to the social training/requirement aspect. I won’t call it “woke” because it’s beyond that. Many recruits come from military families and many of these retirees are simply not pushing their kids toward service because they feel that the purpose and direction of the military is no longer defense of the nation.”

“Wokeness has no place in the military. I would not want to be in the military now because much of what is being taught is against my beliefs. It would be hard to serve a country that has for now abandoned many American values at the top. On patrol and in battle, who would care about he/him/his bla bla bla. I hope we can turn things around. Ex-Army, and proud of it.”

“I spent 6 years in the navy and 2 years of that underwater. Nuclear submarines and basically all naval vessels are not the place for “low quality” applicants. They are dangerous places and you need to be able to depend on your shipmates to be able to do what it takes to keep safe. I served at the beginning of the all volunteer military and at the end of my 6 years, they were already lowering the standards and it was getting scary to go to sea with some of these guys. By lowering the standards, The military is just asking for accidents that should never happen. Maybe they should spend less time on the “woke” nonsense and vaccine mandates and then maybe they wouldn’t have to lower the standards. I know if I were a young man today, I wouldn’t want to be in the military with today’s leadership (or lack thereof).”

“If young fit qualified men are not volunteering and you have to lower the standards to meet quotas. Then you are not addressing the “real” issues. I served, but would not recommend anyone serve in todays military.”

Leave a Comment