Fox News host Laura Ingraham argued Wednesday that two reasons the Army is facing a major recruiting shortfall this year are its “woke” policies and the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“The Army active-duty enlisted recruiting goal for the FY22 is 60,000 based on the 476,000 end-strength goal announced in March. As of mid-July, the Army has recruited nearly 30,000 enlisted Soldiers, 50% of our mission,” Lt. Col. Randee Farrell, the spokeswoman for Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, said in a statement to ABC News.
“Earlier this year, already facing recruiting challenges, the Army had reduced its annual recruiting target by 5,000 recruits,” the news outlet added.
Ingraham argued on her program, “The Ingraham Angle,” that the recruiting shortfall represents a real national security “crisis.”
The Fox News personality played a clip of Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin’s testimony before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday in which he tried to explain some of the reasons the Army is struggling to fill its ranks.
“We’ve got unprecedented challenges with both a post-COVID-19 environment and labor market, but also competition, private competition, with private companies that have changed their incentives over time,” Martin said.
The Army Vice Chief of Staff acknowledged today that the Army will have to reduce its strength by 40,000 soldiers. That’s nearly 10% of the Army.
Army Reserve and Army National Guard reductions will be even worse.
*We must depoliticize the military and end the vaccine mandate.* pic.twitter.com/7tOGVKFk5l
— Rep. Mike Johnson (@RepMikeJohnson) July 19, 2022
He explained that the Army hoped to have 455,000 soldiers at the end of fiscal year 2023, instead of the 473,000 the Pentagon had earlier projected.
That would be down from its current projected strength of 466,400 at the end of this fiscal year.
Martin added that the Army is facing “a decreasing propensity and requisite qualifications to serve” among the recruiting population of young Americans, of whom only 23 percent are qualified physically and otherwise.
Ingraham zeroed in on Martin’s “post-COVID environment” comment, saying, “The general should really have been more blunt.”
“The vaccine mandate is definitely a factor here,” she said.
“The fact of the matter is in large part our military is suffering a severe recruitment crisis because our military leadership is more focused on being woke and following Dr. [Anthony] Fauci than winning wars,” Ingraham contended.
In February 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin strongly encouraged members of the military to get vaccinated. By August, he had mandated they do so or face separation from service.
GOP Rep. Mike Johnson of Ohio pointed out to Martin at Tuesday’s hearing that over 40 percent of men ages 18-24 remain unvaccinated, apparently by choice, suggesting the vaccine mandate might also be a barrier to recruitment.
Fellow Republican Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, who served in the Army Special Forces, further noted since the vaccine mandate went into effect, the understanding of its effectiveness has changed as the predominant virus strain has.
“I think it’s pretty clear now that it doesn’t stop the spread. It’s more of a decision on what types of symptoms you want to incur or risk in your personal capacity, making it much more of a personal health decision,” he said.
Ingraham went on to address the Army’s woke policies that she said are hampering recruitment.
“The fact is that our military leadership has just rolled over for the most radical, left-wing ideas out there, and within our military, including at our military academies, they’re actively teaching CRT and actively promoting the trans and sexual identity agenda,” she said.
Ingraham showed a clip from a cartoon recruiting video telling the story of “Emma,” a soldier who has two moms.
“Why is having two mommies relevant at all?” Ingraham said. “The answer is it’s not.”
She contrasted the “Emma” recruiting video with the “Be All That You Can Be” commercials of the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president.
These commercials inspired people to want to serve, Ingraham said.
They certainly helped inspire me to join!
“This recruitment crisis is a self-inflicted wound by the wokesters. And at some point you do have to wonder if this is their goal,” Ingraham contended.
“It’s 2022. We face an aggressive adversary in communist China, and our standing Army is contracting as theirs is growing. In fact, it’s far larger than ours is now,” she said.
The conservative commentator concluded, “If Americans lose faith in our military, we will be facing a grave national security threat.”
Thomas Spoehr — director of the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation — offered a similar sobering assessment.
The retired Army three-star general and combat veteran told The Western Journal via email, “The Army today is the smallest it has been since 1940, and it is continuing to shrink. A less ready U.S. military means that our potential adversaries may attempt to take advantage of our diminished readiness.”
Spoehr concurred with Martin’s assessment that the tight labor market and the smaller qualified recruiting pool are part of the problem, but that’s not the complete answer, he said.
“Americans’ confidence in their military is dropping, as a result of the Afghanistan withdrawal fiasco, as a result of what they see as the increasingly politicization, and yes policies to promote wokeness, like drag queen story hour at overseas base libraries,” Spoehr said.
“All this is creating the current recruiting crisis.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.