Capitol Hill may seem like a ghost town during the current recess. However, the administration and Congress are hurdling headlong toward more budget talks upon their return, and questions remain about the Dept. of Defense’s budget.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagle has been frantically looking to tighten the pentagon’s bottom line and ease the furloughs imposed on civilian employees in the wake of the automatic spending cuts commonly referred to as the Sequester. For that matter, he has done well. Hands forced, the pentagon is making huge strides to assist their civilian counterparts in these trying times. Yet there is another story here. An untold of ailment brought on by the now infamous sequester that the Pentagon has been dealing with since March.
Military recruiting efforts have been severely scaled back to levels of inefficiency and scrutiny that have never been seen before, making many potential recruits the unheard and unaccounted for victims of the Sequester.
Many potential recruits who, aside from a desire to serve, actually are seeking the opportunity out of absolute necessity have found themselves at an impasse. For generations the military has been a fallback plan for countless Americans. Now, it is a fleeting opportunity for many.
The automatic spending cuts commonly referred to as sequestration had taken effect on Mar 1. 2013. When initiated, it forced the DOD to become extremely strict on who exactly they can recruit. Specifically, any legal infraction, regardless of conviction can render a potential recruit ineligible. Before processing these recruits must go through a wavier process, where many aspirations are laid to rest.
The military requires the FBI carry out a background check on any individual joining. This is nothing new; background checks have been standard for military recruits for years. However, the current level of scrutiny as a result has become crushing. For instance, any charge regardless of conviction requires a ‘waiver’ submittal before the recruit can move forward to the processing stage. These waivers, almost impossible to come by, act as a scarlet letter and take would-be officer and enlisted recruits out of consideration.
These requirements leave a plethora of potential on the table, and with projections for 2014, recruiting pointing toward an all time low concerns are being raised.
This seems to be a discussion often left out of the sequesters coverage and its wake of destruction. It is far reaching beyond civilians in DOD and other members of federal agencies suffering multiple day furloughs. The potential recruit is the unseen collateral damage of the Sequester.
The outlook isn’t promising either. With a rebounding economy, a recent jobs report that put unemployment at its best benchmarks in years, and a much more trim DOD than in recent years, one would assume the DOD could secure more funds for day to day operations. The uncertainty in the Middle East, Asia Pac, and a seemingly imminent strike in Syria would definitely warrant an increased or at least steadier defense budget.
Nevertheless, congress and the administration are inching toward more budget talks reminiscent of the Sequesters origin. Both sides seem dug in, and in avoidance of the fiscal cliff at the end of September, Americans may see the status quo for a long time. The fear among recruiters and top brass officials is that the military is leaving talent behind that could not only be our next military leaders but also possibly change and improve it.