Armed Forces News

An Army drill sergeant corrects a recruit during her first day of training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Jan. 31, 2017. Referred to as “Day Zero” this marks the beginning of the recruit's journey through Basic Combat Training, where she will transition from a civilian to a Soldier. (Army photo by Stephen Standifird)

Despite the disparate cultural and political natures of each country, the U.S. and Chinese armies face similar recruiting and retention challenges.

An article published by the Association of the U.S. Army cited recent publications and studies that highlight commonalities and differences in force management that two nations face. Its author, retired Army Col. Larry M Wortzel, is a senior fellow at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

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The Generation Z (Gen Z) young people they are trying to attract are tied to technology more so than any previous generation, the AUSA article noted. Additionally, Gen Z tends to be under more stress and suffer from depression more than their predecessors. While they are also more likely to be better educated, this younger generation also is more likely to be obese and suffer from general health problems.

The AUSA article suggests that the U.S. Army could take a few pages from the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) playbook, such as incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and technology to reach potential recruits in rural areas. It also noted that other U.S. ally nations – including Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea – are in similar straits. The U.S. Army holds key edges in other areas.

“The U.S. Army is probably in a better position than the PLA in that it is continually striving to meet the challenges of generational change and adapt to Gen Z while taking advantage of that generation’s embrace of information technologies,” the AUSA article stated. “A major advantage that the U.S. army has is that it has taught its people to think and incorporates them in decision-making, empowering them to use initiative and to follow the concept of mission command in acting.”

The PLA could face challenges with such an approach, the AUSA article implied, in part because of the Communist Party’s emphasis on social harmony. “Reinforcing its own strengths and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the PLA can help the U.S. Army to be in a better position to respond to China’s provocations and aggressive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region,” the AUSA article concluded.