The US military's recruiting struggles have been no secret, having been reported widely for years, at a moment Washington hawks look for "new enemies" following two decades of the so-called global war on terror (GWOT) and the deeply unpopular 'forever wars' Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Thursday The Wall Street Journal has learned that the Pentagon is set to significantly cut its fighting force among special operations units. But the controversial plan is already receiving significant pushback among top brass overseeing special warfare and training of foreign allied forces.
While special operators' heyday was the type of counterterror operations that defined the GWOT era of elite forces, the thinking on Capitol Hill is that the future will involve potential conflicts with large powers like Russia or China.
The Journals' sources spell out that the cut is motivated by a shift in strategic priorities away from the Middle East and especially toward the "China threat".
"The Army is cutting about 3,000 troops, or about 10% from its special-operations ranks, which could include so-called trigger-pullers from the Green Beret commando units who have conducted some of the nation’s most dangerous and sensitive missions around the world, from the jungles of Vietnam to the back alleys of Baghdad," writes the WSJ.
US military officials listed out the types of Army jobs on the chopping block as follows: psychological warfare, civil affairs, intelligence operators, communications troops, logistics and other elite support roles, with all of these related to special forces.
The report tallies that in total Special Operations Command would be reduced by about 3,700 troops since last year. But this has resulted in pushback from senior officers who argue that the training of partner forces - such as in Ukraine or Taiwan - could be negatively impacted by the cuts.
But according to the rationale of the proponents of the cuts:
The reductions would enable the Army to rebalance toward the large conventional ground forces needed in a potential fight in Asia. The trims in the ranks of special forces would also help the Army cope with a recruiting shortfall in a strong labor market.
Related to ongoing problems in recruitment, one question that few politicians are asking is the role of the denigration of "warrior culture" in the armed forces.
Chip Roy mocks the woke military:— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) September 28, 2023
"The Marines tweeted a Pride Month image with rainbow tipped bullets on a marine helmet! I'm sure the Chinese military is quaking in its boots with the rainbow tipped bullets being tweeted around the world!” pic.twitter.com/fAg0WHZ35z
The recent years of woke initiatives such as admission of "transgender"-identifying individuals has corresponded with recruiting struggles among all branches. As we've featured multiple times, the Pentagon continues paying the price for going woke instead of actually focusing on... actual combat readiness.