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White men no longer want to fight for a nation that scorns them

Let me begin by making this point as clearly as possible. There is absolutely nothing worse for the combat effectiveness of a military, than attempting to use recruiting as a social engineering program.

It was reported in this newspaper recently how the US Army has seen a dramatic fall in the number of white recruits, as the Military.com website found that the army fell 10,000 short of its 65,000 enlistment target.

Underpinning this drop was a dramatic decrease in white recruits from 44,042 in 2018, to just 25,070 in 2023, leading to the proportion of white recruits falling from 56.4 per cent of all recruits in 2018, to just 44 per cent. According to the US Census from 2022, around 59 per cent of all US citizens were from white backgrounds. The US military is 17 per cent women, so the recruiting crisis is primarily one among white men.

Clearly, something inside the US Army’s recruitment system is failing, both in terms of targets being drastically missed, and a failure to recruit effectively among the nation’s largest ethnic group.

The UK Armed Forces are in a similar depressing situation. Recruiting targets are consistently not met, but the main priority is not to get more people to join up – it is to get more non-white people and women to join up.

He’s not talking to everyone – Getty

Failure to meet recruiting targets is one thing. Peddling politically motivated and deeply flawed ideologically driven quotas is quite another. In another ill-thought out and controversial move to attempt to fix the UK military’s recruiting crisis, last week Defence Secretary Grant Shapps declared that ‘women are the solution to the Armed Forces recruitment crisis’.

This is merely the latest apparent policy to attempt to force equality of outcome in the British military. Best illustrating this woke agenda is the Royal Air Force’s shameful recruitment fiasco from 2022 – when it was discovered that female and ethnic minority candidates were prioritised over white male recruits, regardless of suitability.

There is a strong case to be made that this breached employment law, and was thus illegal. The head of the RAF at the time, Sir Mike Wigston, conveniently managed to avoid any real public scrutiny, though his reputation rightly lies in ruins after trying to defend the shambolic and disgraceful policy. His successor, Sir Richard Knighton, has since apologised over the affair.

I hate to break it to anybody reading this, but forcing equality of outcome on something as important as the nation’s defence is not the solution to our recruiting crisis. Military housing and accommodation needs urgently improving. MoD contracts for poor service providers need to be cut and offered to better managed contractors.

Pay needs to rise at least in average with other public sector bodies, if not far higher given the skill sets required and the risks to life which we routinely ask our men and women in uniform to run on our behalf. The government needs to improve the offer, and create working conditions more in-line with expectations of the society of today, whilst balancing the need to retain combat lethality.

US Army paratroopers Destiny Clark and Kennia Lopez don parachutes ahead of an all-women jump held in recognition of Women's History Month, March 2023

US Army paratroopers Destiny Clark and Kennia Lopez don parachutes ahead of an all-women jump held in recognition of Women’s History Month, March 2023 – Senior Airman Patrick Sullivan/US Army

There’s a wider problem in society, too. For a long time now, the disciples of affirmative action and critical race theory have been at work. All groups have been prioritised except one, to the point where it is often a serious disadvantage to be a white male, particularly when it comes to getting a promotion or a job – as in the case of the RAF in recent times.

Another British example was the recent case of the TV station Channel 4, in which protests were made over the appointment of five new directors, four of whom were white. This was deemed to be too many, despite the fact that slightly more than 80 per cent of British people are white. A US example is the recent case of accounting firm PWC, which has belatedly been forced to allow white people apply for its internship scheme.

It’s not really a surprise, then, that young white men have apparently become less willing to defend at risk of their lives a society which discriminates against them and blames them for all the evils of history – evils which they themselves had nothing to do with.

Recently, the US Supreme Court has moved to end affirmative action in higher education. It should be eliminated in other areas, too.


Robert Clark is a Fellow at the Yorktown Institute in Washington DC. Prior to this he served in the British military 

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