The U.S. military is facing a significant recruiting crisis, especially among Generation Z (those born after 1997). Despite spending $4 billion on marketing aimed at this demographic, the Army, Navy, and Air Force have fallen short of recruitment goals, with only the Marine Corps expecting to meet its targets. Second Lt. Matthew Weiss, a 25-year-old Marine Corps intelligence officer and a member of Gen Z, offers insights and solutions in his new book, “We Don’t Want You, Uncle Sam: Examining the Military Recruiting Crisis with Generation Z.” Weiss’s book outlines concrete proposals to address the disconnect between Gen Z’s values and expectations and the military’s current offerings.
- Recruitment Shortfall: The U.S. military is facing a severe recruitment crisis. The Army expects to fall 15,000 recruits short in 2023, the Navy 10,000, and the Air Force 3,000. Only 9% of American youth ages 16-21 expressed interest in enlisting in 2022, a decline from previous years.
- Gen Z’s Perception and Expectations: Generation Z’s interest in military service is declining. The reasons for this disconnect are multifaceted and include misalignments between military working conditions and the generation’s expectations, pay structures, and sociocultural influences.
- Matthew Weiss’s Proposals: In his book, Weiss proposes specific solutions to attract Gen Z to the military, including creating an impact they can strive toward, providing mentorship, adjusting the military pay structure to include performance bonuses, and leveraging the military’s potential to offer real-world experiences away from digital devices.
- Background and Expertise: Before his military career, Weiss observed talent acquisition at a tech startup specializing in artificial intelligence, and he also earned a bachelor’s and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. This unique background equips him with insights into what might attract Gen Z to military service.
- Available Solutions: Weiss’s book divides his analysis and proposals into four sections, including an examination of Gen Z recruitment, aligning military conditions with generation expectations, an analysis of sociocultural influences, and how the military can give back to society. It is written with the intention of addressing a significant national issue and offers 21 chapters of research-backed solutions.