Claims that “woke” Pentagon policies are causing a major U.S. military recruiting crisis are exaggerated, according to Peter Feaver, a professor at Duke University and former National Security Council member under the Clinton and Bush administrations. Feaver believes that concerns over “woke” policies have been blown out of proportion by politicians and critics. He asserts that the primary drivers of the recruitment crisis are issues such as the current labor market and the shrinking pool of qualified young Americans available to serve.
Feaver recently released a book titled “Thank You For Your Service,” in which he delves into the decline of public confidence in the military. He argues that the politicization of the military by both political parties lies at the heart of this issue. Feaver points to a Gallup poll from July that revealed public confidence in the military to be at 60%, which while relatively high compared to other U.S. institutions, is still a concerning trend for the military. This confidence rating is the lowest since 1997 and has not dipped below 60% since 1988 when it was 58%.
During the 1980s, which was a tumultuous time in American foreign policy due to events like the Cold War and the Iran hostage crisis, Gallup recorded confidence levels in the military ranging from 50% to 63%. However, as recent as 2018, public confidence in the military was as high as 74%. Following high-profile events such as the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, this number has declined, particularly among independents, with only 55% expressing confidence in the military in Gallup’s latest polling.
Feaver highlights that declining public confidence can largely be attributed to politics and accusations that the military has become “woke.” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth agrees with this sentiment, stating earlier this year that criticism of the military has damaged its image and contributed to recruitment difficulties. Wormuth believes that the perception of a “woke military” has been counterproductive and argues that the involvement of military leaders in politicized spaces only reinforces this perception.
In conclusion, Feaver and Wormuth argue that the emphasis placed on “woke” policies is not the main cause of the recruiting crisis. Instead, they emphasize factors such as the labor market and the shrinking pool of qualified candidates as the primary drivers. They believe that the politicization of the military and the perception of a “woke military” are contributing to declining public confidence and making recruitment more challenging.