Skip to content
Breaking News Alert Report: Trump Rally Assassin Hid Gun On Site Before The Event

The Military’s Biggest Problem Is Readiness, Not Recruiting

If Biden really believed that ‘we are the world power,’ our military infrastructure wouldn’t be steadily diminishing under his leadership.


The ongoing military recruiting crisis has dominated headlines, with the Army, Air Force, and Navy all falling short of their goals last year. Concerns over readiness and talent attraction are widespread, even being a core focus of this year’s Heritage Foundation index of military strength. However, attributing the recruiting crisis to “woke culture” or inadequate benefits misses a more intuitive root cause: Without a just war to ignite our patriotism, Americans are not in a rush to enlist. But recruiting soldiers isn’t the real issue; it’s the readiness of our military infrastructure that should alarm us.

Gen. Patton once said, “Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle.” The statement captures a timeless truth about the American spirit; people do not join the military because they want to file paperwork, clean offices, and do routine vehicle maintenance. When you see a recruiting commercial on television, you watch scenes of bravery unfold, and the warrior spirit persists. These scenes resonate deeply with those who feel the call to serve, the people who will raise their right hand to defend our freedom.

In 2024, America faces increasing and worrying threats from revisionist foreign entities like China, Iran, and North Korea, yet as a nation, the United States is technically at peace. Peace is something of a problem for a professional force that has recruiting quotas and readiness metrics to meet, but it doesn’t spell absolute disaster.

The surge of enlistments after Pearl Harbor and the massive volunteer response following 9/11 demonstrated that when America is threatened, the volunteers will come. Right now, for most Americans, there is no imminent challenge to our safety. It is precisely this sense of safety that discourages would-be recruits.

Our current focus should be on war variables that cannot volunteer at a moment’s notice: ships, technology, and weapons systems. These critical resources require long-term investment and production. Ships and weapons take years to build, advanced technology has a very long production timeline, and weapons systems must be continually updated to stay ahead of potential adversaries.

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the entire defense-industrial base lacks the capacity, ability, and surge capability to meet the U.S. military’s wartime needs. Also important, China is acquiring high-end weapons and equipment up to six times faster than the U.S.

Shipbuilding, vital to challenging a rising China in the Pacific, is behind schedule across the board, with some ships already years behind schedule. Right now, the Navy lacks the ships it needs for peacetime operations, and with the current infrastructure, the U.S. can’t catch up to compensate for our current needs. In a major war with China, this will become a massive Achilles heel.

The problem is not just with ships, but also with the weapons they fire. If conflict with China were to break out in the Taiwan Strait, America could run out of critical long-range, precision-guided munitions in under a week. It can take years to produce critical weapons systems, like anti-ship missiles, which will be critical during a major conflict. 

Across the Department of Defense, critical weapons systems are being expended (or given away) faster than they’re being produced, from tomahawk cruise missiles to 155mm artillery shells. This is a dangerous gambit, as it leaves the U.S. with paltry wartime stockpiles while we lack the industrial base to produce enough for a major war of our own.

The answer isn’t as simple as increasing production when war breaks out. As we learned with Ukraine, increasing production to meet wartime demand is a slow process, even when motivated. Two years into the conflict, with artillery munition production woefully lacking, it is projected that production will reach 85,000 shells per month by fiscal year 2028. Ukraine will fire that many shells in a few days.

We need to reinvest in our military industrial base, and we needed to do so years ago. It is unacceptable that as the biggest threat to our national security is making huge investments in their production capacity and capabilities, we allow ours to wither. If Biden really believed that “we are the world power,” our military infrastructure wouldn’t be steadily diminishing under his leadership.

While the recruiting crisis may seem alarming, history shows that Americans have always risen to meet the enemy when it matters most. Our immediate focus should be on bolstering the technological and logistical foundation of our military. When the time comes, the volunteers will follow — but only if we have the tools ready for them to secure victory.

Access Commentsx