Tuesday, December 2, 2014

     In my book "Skin in the Game...Poor Kids and Patriots" I ask whether the All-Volunteer Force (AVF) is working and will work in the future based on fairness, efficiency, and sustainability.  Emerging arithmetic is helping to answer the question.  Major General Allen Batschelet, commander of the US Army Recruiting Command, was quoted in the Army Times, stating "We are finding fewer and fewer people who are qualified to serve" as a result of obesity.  Elevated high school dropout rates and adolescent asthma also reduce the pool of those who qualify.  Today fewer than 3 in 10 Americans in the prime recruiting age group meet the recruiting standards.  By the year 2020 that ratio may fall to 2 of 10.
     The Army alone needs to recruit about 80,000 new people each year.  The other services also have recruiting requirements.  Each year about four million Americans reach the age of eighteen.  The "propensity to serve" in the military (those willing) is about 8% and has declined over the past decade.  Here's where the arithmetic gets interesting.  If 30% of the recruiting pool is able to serve and 8% is willing to serve that means that 2.4% of the pool is both willing AND able to serve; 2.4% of four million is 96,000 available to all the branches of the military.  Demand exceeds supply under current conditions and the AVF is unsustainable.  If either the "propensity to serve" (willing) or those qualified (able) falls, the arithmetic gets worse.
     Now may be a good time to ask if the All-Volunteer Force will work in the future.

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