By CDR Robert A. Green, Jr, US Navy
With U.S. military readiness already in dire straits, the gapped personnel positions on operational Navy ships have leapt from 7,000 during the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak to over 20,000 in October of this year.
This severe and ever-deteriorating impact to readiness will only accelerate as the Navy missed its 2023 recruiting targets by over 10,000 recruits across all accession programs.
The Navy even initiated a new program called “Every Sailor is a Recruiter” to help jumpstart recruiting.
Needless to say, this program, established in 2022, has not been very effective. The other services face similar untenable situations.
Leadership has been desperate to bolster recruiting efforts even while official policy continues to push resources towards ever smaller segments of the population, such as those who identify as something other than how they were born and those who live alternate lifestyles.
DoD leaders have shamelessly abandoned the groups that historically made up the bulk of military recruits, namely young conservative men and women from middle-class and patriotic American families.
This betrayal should come as no surprise on the heels of some of the most tragic and devastating embarrassments ever endured by our military. More than 7,000 service members paid with their lives for a so-called global war on terror with no strategic objectives or victory criteria. The poorly planned withdrawal from Afghanistan cost the lives of 13 service members and left our adversaries with over $7 billion worth of our military equipment.
Most recently, military leaders broke the law and violated the constitutional rights of individual service members during the implementation of the COVID-19 shot mandate. Ultimately, over 8,400 service members were involuntarily discharged, but that is just the beginning of the numbers harmed.
Hundreds of thousands of service members had conscientious or simple common sense objections to receiving a rushed and experimental medical product. Yet they felt forced and coerced into getting the shot anyway.
A significant portion of these service members ended up with tragic and debilitating jab injuries, and many were mocked or threatened when they begged for help with those injuries.
Individual leaders within the DoD are the ones to blame for these failures, but they refuse to take any responsibility.
The Army, Navy, and Air Force service secretaries have held no one accountable for these continuous betrayals of trust. Instead they have spent their time and resources attacking Senator Tommy Tuberville in an attempt to obtain promotions for the highest ranking 300 admirals and generals.
These leaders appear to be focusing all their efforts on the top of the pyramid while its enlisted foundation crumbles from distrust and disregard.
In a joint op-ed from September of this year, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall even complained about senior flag and general officers having to “unexpectedly maintain two residences.”
They did not provide any similar concerns over the 8,400 they kicked out of the military, some of whom ended up homeless despite having young families.
Unfortunately, uniformed DoD leaders did far worse than many of their civilian counterparts in betraying the trust of the service members they led. Their over-the-top “COVID-19 mitigation” policies were numerous and often illegal.
In violation of the First Amendment, Admiral Christopher Grady ordered that no service member under his charge could attend indoor religious services.
Echoing the crimes of the past was Army Brigadier General David Doyle, who ordered all unjabbed service members to wear a red band on their arm to denote their status as an unvaccinated soldier.
Major General David J. Francis was one of the first military leaders in the country to use his authority to weaponize the masking of soldiers. When he began permitting jabbed service members to unmask, he also ordered that unmasked soldiers “be prepared to show proof of vaccination (CDC vaccination card or other medical documentation).”
The members of the armed forces see exactly zero senior DoD leaders taking responsibility for their actions.
No admirals or generals were willing to lay down their stars to protect the service members in their charge, while multiple junior officers and enlisted did exactly that, losing commands and careers in the process.
There is now a single U.S. senator attempting to hold DoD leaders accountable, and military leaders have attacked him for it.
The American people clearly see this lack of accountability and are finding greener pastures elsewhere.
Rather than rebuilding trust with the American people by taking responsibility for their failures, DoD leadership has instead simply increased the intensity of their recruiting language.
In an October 19 message to the force, Navy Secretary Del Toro called on all sailors and marines to share their stories of service in an effort to help with recruiting. In this message, he also noted that public perceptions are suffering and that “we must do more to rebuild trust and confidence of younger Americans, their families, and educators.”
Frankly, what these leaders are doing is not working because unaddressed distrust is driving service members to urge those they care about to steer clear.
A new and radical recruiting program is now required to properly rebuild trust with the American people. The new program should be called “Every Admiral and General is a Recruiter.”
The program has one requirement: If you were a leader who contributed to the betrayal of trust, take responsibility for your failures and resign now.
The American people will not trust the DoD with their sons and daughters until they see leaders being held accountable.
Be the leader who finally steps up and accepts responsibility. Your resignation will surely do more to rebuild trust and jumpstart recruiting than your empty words ever could.
Robert A. Green Jr. is an active duty Navy Commander and the author of Defending the Constitution behind Enemy Lines. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the DoD or the U.S. Navy.