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How can the US military recruit ‘zoomers’?

Sep 05, 2023


The U.S. military has struggled to meet its recruitment goals throughout the 20-year war on terror. Since then, recruitment capacity has continued to decline.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan does have some reassuring news, though. Zoomers are most skilled in exactly the areas where the United States military already outperforms its peers and where it prioritizes even further development.

Excerpted from Peter’s Sep. 4 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

The U.S. military has had recruitment issues for a while, and the next generation reaching the recruitment age (aka those who hate any and all things social) won’t be making it any easier. But this isn’t just a U.S. military issue; this is the leading edge of a recruiting crisis for everyone.

The good news is that we already have a solid understanding of Zoomers. Not just from an inflow to the labor market perspective but also culturally. They are ethnically diverse, open-minded, good with tech, highly educated, loyal workers…but very anti-social.

Adapting to the expertise and preferences of Zoomers will help shape what the U.S. military looks like over the next few decades, and it’s likely a sign of things to come. Making accommodations and adjustments for the next generation will be necessary for anyone looking to attract talent.

Hey, everybody, Peter Zion here coming to you from Colorado’s last man wilderness. I’m halfway through the Gessler peak traverse. And we’re gonna take one of the ask Peter questions now specifically am I worried about the US military, there seems to be a bit of a recruiting crisis. The US military had a hard time meeting its numbers throughout the war on terror. And that was 20 years long. And since then the capacity for recruitment has actually dropped. What we’re seeing right now is not the leading edge of recruiting, recruiting prices, but military, the leading edge of a recruiting crisis for everyone. Every demographic profile is a little bit different. In the case of the United States, we now have a very small generation, the smallest ever that is coming of age, the Zoomers turn 18, based on how you do the math, but from my Math A turned 18 in 2018 makes it much simpler, which means that the oldest Millennials turned 23 This year, and the youngest ones turn four. Now what that means is we know exactly what the inflow into the labor market is for the next 20 years because the kids have already been born. And we now know a lot about them culturally. And it’s not the sort of thing that the military likes to hear. They are the most ethnically diverse group we have ever had. They’re the most open minded on social norms. However, on top of that, they’re the most technically minded and arguably the best educated we’ve ever had. They’re very inclusive, they’re very loyal workers, they they feel that work is an opportunity, and they will follow you into hell. Virtually, they hate people, they’re antisocial. Their dream job is to work in a closet that locks from the inside you need something programmed or designed. They are who you want to turn to. You want to take a hill, no, they never want to go outside they never want to see another person go to face to face. So what I’m doing here during class two and class three traverses with a few easy class four moves all day by myself and then I’m gonna get on a trail and I’m going to Yuk it up with people that I meet. And I know I’m going to end the night in some bar and Aspen just making new friends. That is their idea of hell on earth. The Zoomers are very different from the millennials who come before who are much more social. And we have a world full of Zoomers now who are going to be filling out the labor market for the next 15 years. In many ways, what we’re seeing with the military to this point is simply a signal of things to come. Because remember, in most careers in the United States, especially ones that require a degree of education, adulthood, if you will, the first real job start somewhere between age 21 and 26. The US military recruits right out of high school at ages 17 to 19. So what the US military has been dealing with and modifying themselves around for the last few years is what every one is going to have to do for the foreseeable future. Now in the case of the US military are finding ways to get around, but probably the single biggest thing that has gone right for the military is into the global war on terror. Basically, the United States for 20 years tried to partially occupy huge portions of the world. And the only way that you can occupy territories with foot soldiers. That means boots on the ground. That means a lot of soldiers that means the army and that’s hard to do when Zoomers are your recruiting pool. So now that the war on terror has ended and they’ve been able to rest and recruit the military has been able to use the expertise and the preferences of the Zoomers to really upgrade a lot of the military tech that will define the next generation of military operations. This is great for special forces. This is great for drone warfare. This is great for satellite reconnaissance and cryptography. These are all things that the United States was already the world leader on and the Zoomers are gonna plug into that very, very nicely. But if the United States gets involved in another mass military operation, we have 2.2 million troops. That’s a very different picture. Now politically, I don’t think that’s on the docket. After the war on terror. Americans are absolutely not interested in the large ground warfare operation anywhere in the world Tripoli. So in the Middle East, but the world does have a tendency to not ask you before they get you involved in a military conflict. So at the moment, I’m not worried because the things that Zoomers are good at are the things that the US military wants to be better at. It’s a good match. The only issue is if something goes wrong. All right. Take care. Bye


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