A precipitous drop in the number of white recruits into the U.S. Army over the past five years sheds a new light on the service’s ongoing recruiting crisis, Military.com reported, citing internal Army data viewed by the outlet.

The Army missed its 2023 recruiting target by 10,000 soldiers, falling short of its 65,000 goal, after hitting only three-quarters of its 2023 goal as the Pentagon doubled down on prioritizing racial and ethnic diversity in the ranks. Much of that decline is attributed to a dramatic decline in the total number of white recruits as the Army brought in roughly 20,000 fewer white soldiers in 2023 compared to 2018 , according to the data seen by Military.com.

“What we’re seeing is a reflection of society; what we know less of is what is driving all of these things,” an Army official told Military.com. “There is no widely accepted cause.”

Other demographic groups have fluctuated over those five years, but none consistently tumbled over time like the white demographic had, according to Military.com. The largest drop happened between 2022 and 2023, with the service bringing in 6% fewer white recruits than the year prior.

In 2018, 44,042 new recruits, 56.4% of the total, were white, Military.com reported. That number collapsed to a low of 25,070 in 2023.

Over the same time period, black recruits increased from 20% to 24% of the total and Hispanics from 17% to 24%, although the real number of recruits from each demographic group was largely unchanged as the total number of new personnel the Army has brought in each year continues to dip, according to Military.com.

The outlet said it viewed data that appeared to show an even more cataclysmic decline in white recruits, but Army public affairs officials told Military.com the data were incorrect due to a system coding error and provided the updated data included in the report.

Army officials attributed the decline to a number of factors, including drug use, obesity, a drop in white male representation in the labor market and partisan attacks officials said characterized the military as woke and could drive away potential white recruits, according to Military.com.

The DEI portion of the Army’s personnel strategy calls for adapting “accession, recruiting, and retention programs to address U.S. Census Bureau’s demographic shift projections and global trends to ensure the Army remains representative of the American population.”

However, the change in white recruits far exceeds any demographic shifts currently taking place, Army officials and data experts told Military.com.

Military.com was not able to obtain recruiting data broken down by region, which could shed further light on areas where it is struggling the most. Overall, the data showed the percentage of male and female recruits remains unchanged on the whole but did not show a breakdown of gender and race or ethnicity at the same time.


Conservative lawmakers and media highlighting the Army’s preoccupation with diversity could contribute to the problem, some Army officials told Military.com.

“No, the young applicants don’t care about this stuff,” one Army official told Military.com. “There’s a level of prestige in parts of conservative America with service that has degraded.”

The Army did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Micaela Burrow on January 10, 2024

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