By Jasmyne Ferber, Fort Meade Public Affairs

(Fort George G. Meade, M.D.) -- Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III delivered the oath of enlistment to 85 new recruits across the Armed Forces at the Fort Meade Military Entrance Processing Station, July 5, 2023.

49 Soldiers, 13 Marines, 5 Sailors, and 18 Reservists took the oath during the ceremony, marking the beginning of their commitment to protect and defend the nation.

The occasion coincided with the 50th anniversary of the All-Volunteer Force, commemorating volunteer service for all the branches of the military.

"50 years ago this week, the United States stopped drafting citizens into service and turned instead to an all-volunteer force," Austin said. "Ever since then, Americans like you have joined our military out of conviction and not out of compulsion."

Austin was greeted by Fort Meade Garrison Commander COL Michael Sapp, CSM Andre Welch and Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, Commander of U.S. CYBERCOM.

The newest members of our Armed Forces ranged from 18 to 24 years of age. During his remarks, Austin highlighted the unparalleled opportunities they will have to grow and to lead during their military service.

"America's All-Volunteer Force is the strongest military in human history and the power of today's military is a testament to every American patriot who freely volunteers to keep our republic safe, and that means you," Austin said. "We rely on you. Our democracy relies on you. And your country relies on you. And so you're here to become something bigger than yourselves and to defend our values, our freedoms and our constitution."