December 4, 2023

US Army: Shorthanded and Struggling


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Soldiers are leaving the Army National Guard at a faster rate than they are enlisting, fueling concerns that in the coming years units around the country may not meet military requirements for overseas and other deployments, reports AP.

The Army National Guard will end fiscal 2022 about 6,000 troops short. The Army Reserve hasn’t met its budgeted end strength since fiscal 2016. As for active duty, Army Times reports, the service’s poor recruitment year (reaching only 75% of its FY’22 recruitment goals) has left the Army nearly 466,000 soldiers, that’s 20,000 fewer than Congress funded.

The Army’s recruitment fell about 15,000 soldiers short, according to the Marine Corps Times which announced that the Corps has met its recruitment goals for fiscal year 2022. The Navy met its active-duty enlisted recruitment goals, but not for officers. The Air Force expects to just-barely meet active-duty targets. The small Space Force met its goals. The Marines recruited 28,608 active-duty enlisted, making its goal by just eight service members. Among Reserve enlisted personnel, the Corps met its exact accession target of 4,602 troops.

As well as struggling to keep ready for wars around the globe, the Army is struggling to stay out of the culture war at home, reports Army Times. Attacks from conservative cable news personalities has Army SEC Christine Wormuth advising senior leaders to “not get drawn into, frankly, the inflammatory kind of environment that Twitter really lends itself to.” Her goal is “keeping the Army apolitical and keeping it out of the culture wars, because we have got to be able to have a broad appeal.”

The Army has faced some blowback over its commitment to stand up for women in the ranks, reports Stars and Stripes, after a recent Defense Department Inspector General report criticized Army MAJGEN Patrick Donahoe for his 2021 Twitter posts defending female troops following ridicule by a right-wing pundit.

The Army is decreasing the clothing allowance awarded to women while boosting money men receive for 2023, according to an internal memo reviewed by Women’s standard allowance is decreasing from $561.78 in 2022 to $507.48 for fy23 that began Oct. 1. Men saw a boost from $509.11 to $517.34. Once a year, every soldier receives a clothing allowance meant to replace or maintain their uniforms. Research indicates women typically must spend more on uniforms over the course of their careers.

Two brigade commanders at Fort Hood, TX, have been relieved of command, reports Army Times. Fired were: COL Jon Meredith as commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, for “loss of confidence in his judgement and ability to command.” Meredith took over in May 2021 from COL Michael Schoenfeldt, who was fired that April for bullying subordinates. Also fired last week was COL Anthony Wilson of the division’s 1st Sustainment Brigade, for the same stated reason. Wilson took the reins for the logistics unit in June 2021 and had “a deleterious impact” on their welfare.



Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) announces a hold on Saudi arms sales after oil cuts, reports Defense News.  OPEC announced last week that the cartel will curtail oil production. Menendez says Saudi Arabia’s push for the OPEC cuts amounted to support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it “a terrible decision driven by economic self-interest.”

Russian-speaking hackers knocked multiple US airport websites offline on Monday, without operational impact, reports CNN. More than a dozen public-facing airport websites, including those for some of the nation’s largest airports, appeared inaccessible Monday morning, and Russian-speaking hackers claimed responsibility. No immediate signs of impact to actual air travel were reported.

US Central Command has confirmed a failed drone strike in Syria targeted US troops, reports Military Times. A base in northeast Syria housing US and coalition forces was the target of a drone strike on Oct. 8. No injuries or structural damage were reported.

Following the deluge of Russian missile strikes in cities across Ukraine, US President Joe Biden promises Ukraine ‘advanced air defense systems’, reports Military Times. Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressing condolences, condemning the strikes, and pledging continued US security assistance “including advanced air defense systems.”

A longtime C-130 unit is swapping out cargo planes for helicopters, reports Military Times. After 40 years of taking the C-130 Hercules into combat, the Air Force Reserve’s 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama will become the main hub for training pilots to fly the new MH-139 Grey Wolf — a helicopter designed to patrol nuclear missile fields and evacuate government VIPs in national emergencies.

After a successful test of home delivery of groceries, commissary officials are working to expand the program and offer delivery at more locations, reports Military Times.

Although Maryland DNR dropped Breton Bay in St. Mary’s County from the five tributaries targeted for reef restoration, some Southern Marylanders refuse to give up, reports Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Last month volunteers planted an estimated 1 million juvenile oysters, or spat, on a sanctuary reef in Breton Bay. DNR dropped Breton Bay as a reef restoration site in 2018 in favor of the Manokin River on the Eastern Shore after surveys found no oysters, living or dead, on Breton’s bottom.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing to ensure troops, veterans and Gold Star families can get into National Parks even when they may be overflowing with tourists, reports In a letter to National Park Service Director Charles Sams, 24 House lawmakers asked him to set aside slots for those with military affiliations in the lottery systems that some National Parks implemented to prevent overcrowding.


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