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© Getty Images / Scott OlsonFILE PHOTO: US Army recruits arrive for basic training in September 2022 at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.
American men have reportedly lost interest in military service as they increasingly withdraw from society more broadly, driving the persistent shortfalls in US Army recruiting and raising the nation's reliance on female troops.

Male enlistment has plunged by 35% in the past decade, dropping from around 58,000 in 2013 to 37,700 last year, reported on Friday, citing US Army recruiting data. At the same time, female enlistment has held steady at around 10,000 recruits each year.

Declines in the number of men who are willing to sign up for military service have left the Army unable to meet its recruiting quotas. The largest US military branch fell short of its targets for new troops by about 10,000 enlistments last year and by 15,000 in 2022. Other branches have had similar shortfalls. The Army reduced its enlistment target by 10,000 troops this year, aiming for 55,000.

US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and other conservative politicians have blamed the military's recruiting crisis on "woke ideology," emphasizing such criteria as race, gender and sexual orientation at the expense of readiness to fight wars. The latest Reagan National Defense Survey, released in November, showed that only 46% of Americans have a "great deal" of trust in their nation's military, down from 70% in 2018. About half of respondents cited "woke" practices as a reason for declining confidence.

However, the report noted that beyond cultural issues, experts pointed to broader issues with American men, including a "national crisis of masculinity." Rates of suicide and drug overdoses have risen, while men have become less likely to attend college or build a career. In fact, the media outlet said, US men are "slowly disappearing from the general workforce."

The trend "goes way beyond military recruitment," said Ronald Levant, an Ohio psychology professor and former president of the American Psychological Association. "It really has to do with social change. I think there is an amotivational syndrome that seems to permeate a lot of young men today. They're just not motivated to do very much."

Just 64.9% of US men held a job as of last month, down from a peak of over 84% in the 1950s, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the same period, female participation in the labor force has nearly doubled, to 55.4%.

US Army demographic data shows that the military has become less male and less white in recent years. The active-duty force was 84.4% male in 2023, down from 86.4% a decade earlier. Whites accounted for 53.5% of the troops last year, down from 61.7% in 2011.