The US Army, like the rest of the world, is dealing with the repercussions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pause in face-to-face meetings, home isolation, and the increased unemployment rate are just a few of the factors that have resulted in these “unprecedented challenges.” Not to mention young talents who are willing to volunteer but don’t have the qualifications to even make it to basic training or those who would prefer the civilian workforce as private employers offer higher, enticing benefits. And even though several qualifications, pre-enlistment exams, and military enlistment bonuses have been changed, the Army still has trouble attracting outstanding candidates.

Down Trend In Army Recruits

This demoralizing news was brought to light last month by a top US official, who claimed that the US Army is not receiving enough applicants and would probably fall 10,000 recruits short of its target for this fiscal year—perhaps it might be shorter next year if the trend persists to decline.

The military branch now anticipates having a total force of about 466,400 by the end of 2022, down 10,000 from its initial projection of 476,000, according to Army General Joseph Martin, vice chief of staff.

Martin added that by the end of 2023, this number could further decline to between 445,000 and 452,000 personnel, depending on the Army’s success in terms of recruitment and retention.

If this shortage persists, Martin warned that this might undermine “the Army’s readiness.”

“We’ve got unprecedented challenges with both a post-COVID-19 environment and labor market, but also [the] competition with private companies that have changed their incentives over time,” Martin said.

The New York Times reports that the current trend in military recruiting matches that of the entry-level troops’ enlistment during the post-Vietnam War. Pentagon leaders also acknowledged the problem, citing a 23 percent drop from the military’s annual target as of June.