By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News
AUBURN, Ala. – On a phone call with reporters this week, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, R-AL, said the United States’ lacking military recruitment numbers constituted a “national security emergency.”
A statement by the National Guard Association of the United States issued on June 28 said every military branch is having trouble meeting recruiting goals for fiscal year 2022. The Army, they said, is struggling the most, having only recruited about 40% of its goal with only three months remaining of the fiscal year.
The official website for army recruiting said they have not faced this tough of a labor market since the military became completely volunteer based in 1973.
Many attribute much of this to the lack of qualified recruits.
“71% of youth do not qualify for military service because of obesity, drugs, physical and mental health problems, misconduct, and aptitude,” according to the Army recruiting website.
Tuberville pointed out that many of these recruits are ineligible due to their refusal (often upon religious ground, he said) to get the Covid-19 vaccinations.
The Army has shown hesitation to grant religious exemptions for its current soldiers. The branch released a statement in June along with data that showed that 4,736 active soldiers had filed for permanent religious exemptions from the vaccine as of June 23. Only 16 of those have been approved, and 1,185 have been denied.
As of June 23, the Army stated that 1,037 soldiers have been “separated” for refusing to receive the Covid vaccine.
Tuberville also cited a specific incident in February 2021 that he said “demoralized our men and women in uniform.”
In February 2021, Secretary of Defense Austin ordered the entire Department of Defense to stand down for one day and complete education and training on extremism. A work group was later developed in April to look further into the issue of extremism within the U.S. military, and the protocols and training materials were revised when the workforce released findings in December.
“This is an insult to the very people who pledge their lives to support and defend our country,” Tuberville said of the required anti-extremism training.
“Our military are not extremists; they are heroes.”
He said he believes the Biden administration is going about military recruiting in all the wrong ways, and that the withdrawal from Afghanistan is an important factor in the low recruiting numbers.
“American defeat and retreat does not inspire young people to sign up for our armed forces,” he said.
Tuberville joined other Republican Senators in calling out the Biden administration for trying to build a “woke Army.”
Diversity, equity, and inclusion training has been added to military curriculum and the ideas have been implemented in a series of army recruiting videos on YouTube.
Tuberville said these political ad campaigns are not helping inspire young recruits to enlist.
“We know what works: patriotism – pride in our country,” he said.
The Senator said he will continue to push for hearings regarding the issue. He serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee.