Last Updated on August 26, 2022
The Air Force Academy has recorded a significant year-on-year drop in applicants interested in attending the service academy, according to a report from Breitbart News. Military recruitment in general has suffered declines as vaccine mandates and a push for diversity continue to drive away potential applicants.
In 2022, the Air Force Academy has suffered a 28% drop in overall applications when compared with last year, according to Air Force Academy admissions statistics obtained by Breitbart News. In 2021, there were 11,615 applicants. In 2022, that number dropped to 8,393.
In terms of “qualified candidates” tracked by the academy, the drop was even more severe at 46%. In 2021, there were 3,279 qualified candidates. In 2022, there were only 1,775 qualified candidates, Breitbart reported.
Despite a significant drop in qualified applicants, the academy enrolled around the same number of recruits in 2022. The academy enrolled around 100 fewer cadets when compared with 2021, suggesting a severe dip in recruiting standards.
The drop in applications comes as the Air Force Academy has vowed to boost the “diversity” of its candidates by 10 percent, according to a former academy official.
Academy officials have attributed the dip to the COVID-19 pandemic, however. Air Force Col. Arthur Primas Jr., the academy’s director of admissions, told Breitbart that the lack of in-person recruiting potential has led to the lack of qualified applicants.
“The Academy believes that cancellation of in-person recruiting and information events across the nation and at the Academy during the height of the pandemic, while a prudent health and safety concern, impacted the overall number of applications for the Class of 2026,” Primas Jr. said. With the return of in-person recruiting and information events we are already up nearly 1,700 applications from this point last year.
While military officials blame the pandemic and a good job market, Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services (STARRS) – a non-profit organization founded by retired Air Force generals and Air Force Academy graduates – argues that the spread of critical race theory and other leftist ideals throughout the military is driving down recruitment.
“A major reason, which the Academy will not acknowledge, for the decline in applicants is that the culture of the AFA has changed to promote racial and radical leftist ideologies,” said Mike Rose, an academy graduate and executive vice president and general counsel for STARRS.
In an interview with Breitbart, STARRS Director of Operations Matthew Lohmeier, a former Space Force lieutenant colonel and Air Force Academy graduate, said parents of potential applicants — who generally hold significant influence over military service — have told him and others at STARRS that they are turned off by the academy’s embrace of anti-white principles.
Lohmeier said there are now academy cadets who function as “political commissars” to ensure diversity and the teaching of “inclusion” trainings. The cadets even wear special braided ropes so that other cadets can easily identify them as people they can talk to about race and identity issues, Breitbart reported.
Lohmeier also cited former academy track and field coach Dana Lyon, who told STARRS that the academy lost five excellent female athlete recruits because they and their families were “very concerned about what they were seeing about the direction of the defense department and the news over the last year.”
News at the time included a Congressional hearing in which senior military leaders defended the teaching of critical race theory in the armed forces. During one hearing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said he wanted to learn about “white rage” and determine why U.S. citizens would protest at the Capitol Building. In another hearing, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday defended putting the book How to Be an Antiracist by critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi on his recommended reading list for all sailors.
“There began to be from that moment forward, a loss of trust and confidence in our senior military leaders that we’ve never quite experienced before as a country,” Lohmeier said of the hearings. “The American people got to see firsthand how the culture of the United States military was rapidly changing, celebrating values that the majority of American people don’t celebrate themselves and teaching ideology in place of focusing on duty, honor, and country.”
Lohmeier left the Air Force after he was fired as commander of the 11th Space Warning Squadron for publishing a book and speaking out about the spread of Marxism within the service. He has continued to speak out against Marxism within the armed forces with STARRS.