Chapter 1

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This is the 26th annual Department of Defense (DoD) report on social representation in the U.S. Military Services. In response to a mandate by the Senate Committee on Armed Services (Report 93-884, May 1974), the Directorate for Accession Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) has provided annual data addressing the quality and representativeness of military personnel since fiscal year (FY) 1975. Originally, the report was limited to an assessment of the active duty enlisted force only. In keeping with an increased emphasis and reliance on a Total Force, Accession Policy has expanded this effort to include statistics not only for enlisted personnel but also for officers and reservists. In addition to presenting data on each of the Military Services, since last year, data on the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) are also provided. Although an armed service, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Transportation except in times of war and national emergency when it reports to the Department of the Navy.

This report presents a broad array of characteristics—beyond routine demographics (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity). Estimates of cognitive ability (e.g., education, reading grade level, Armed Forces Qualification Test [AFQT] scores) supplemented with more complex composite measures (e.g., socioeconomic status) and service characteristics (e.g., years of service and pay grade) also are used to describe the force. Further, historical data are included to aid in analyzing trends to render the statistics more interpretable. Thus, recruit quality, representation rates, and the like can be viewed within the context of the preceding decades. These data are invaluable to military personnel policymakers and analysts as well as others interested in monitoring the characteristics of people serving in the Military Services.

The aim of the Population Representation report is to disseminate facts regarding the demographics and other characteristics of applicants, new recruits, and enlisted and officer members of the Active Forces and Reserve Components. Aptitude, education levels, age, race/ethnicity, and gender are among the mainstay statistics that shed light on the formidable task of recruiting and maintaining the force. Years of military service and pay grade provide measures of the degree of personnel experience as well as career progress that are particularly informative when examined by gender and race/ethnicity. Representation levels may change only slightly from year to year but monitoring racial/ethnic and gender participation together with additional relevant factors maintains needed attention on the characteristics and quality levels of the men and women who defend our country.

The chapters that follow provide a narrative description with selected tables and graphs, as well as a detailed set of technical appendices addressing many of the traits and characteristics of current military personnel. This chapter sets the tone and provides some interpretive guidance with regard to the voluminous contents of the Population Representation report.