This is the 26th annual
Department of Defense (DoD) report on social representation in the U.S.
Military Services. The nine chapters and accompanying technical appendices
provide data and comments on demographic, educational, aptitude, and socioeconomic
characteristics of applicants, new recruits, and enlisted and officer
members of the Active and Reserve Components. This report covers fiscal
year (FY) 1999, from October 1, 1998, to September 30, 1999. The report
is available on the worldwide web at http://dticaw.dtic.mil/prhome/poprep99/.
The FY 1999 end-strength of the Active Component was slightly less than
1.4 million and the Selected Reserve (comprising the Army National Guard,
Army Reserve, Naval Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard,
and Air Force Reserve) totaled almost 871,000. Additionally, there are
more than 405,000 people in the Inactive Ready Reserve/Inactive National
Guard. Today's force is much smaller than in the early volunteer force
years. To sustain this reduced strength, in FY 1999 approximately 184,000
non-prior service (NPS) recruits were enlisted and nearly 6,000 prior
service recruits were returned to the ranks. More than 16,000 newly commissioned
officers reported for active duty. Furthermore, about 55,000 recruits
without and more than 88,000 with prior military experience were enlisted
in the Selected Reserve. In excess of 17,000 commissioned officers entered
the National Guard or Reserves this past fiscal year as well. The salient
characteristics of these personnel are described in this summary.
Age. The active duty military comprises
a younger workforce than the civilian sector. Service policies and legal
restrictions account for the relative youthfulness of the military. Eighty-seven
percent of FY 1999 new active duty recruits were 18 through 24 years of
age, compared to 29 percent of civilians within the military age range
of 17-35. Almost half (46 percent) of the active duty enlisted force was
17-24 years old, in contrast to about 15 percent of the civilian labor
force. Officers were older than those in the enlisted ranks (mean ages
34 and 27, respectively), but they too were younger than their civilian
counterparts (mean age 36), college graduates in the work force 21-49
The data for enlisted personnel in the Selected Reserve similarly showed
a more youthful composition than that of the civilian labor force. Among
enlisted Reserve Component members, 62 percent of NPS accessions were
between the ages of 17 and 19, but only 13 percent of civilians within
the 17-35 year age range fell within this age subgroup. Of course, prior
service Reserve Component enlisted accessions were older than those without
prior service, but still younger than the civilian workforce (e.g., 64
percent versus 45 percent were under 30 years of age).
Race/Ethnicity. In FY 1999, African
Americans were equitably represented in the military overall. In the enlisted
force, African Americans were overrepresented among NPS active duty accessions
(20 percent) relative to the 18-24 year-old civilian population (14 percent).
Hispanics, on the other hand, continued to be underrepresented, with 11
percent among NPS accessions compared with 15 percent for comparable civilians.
FY 1999 representation of "Other" minority enlisted accessions
(Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders) stood at approximately
7 percent, slightly more than in the civilian population (5 percent).
Not only did African Americans enlist in high proportions, but higher
retention rates boosted their representation among Active Component enlisted
members to 22 percent in contrast to the 13 percent of African Americans
among 18-44 year-old civilians in the workforce. With close to 9 percent
of active duty enlisted members counted as Hispanic, this ethnic minority
maintained its low proportion relative to the comparable civilian population
Over the years African Americans have been overrepresented, whereas Hispanics
and "Other" minorities have been underrepresented. However,
the proportion of active duty accessions with Hispanic and "Other"
backgrounds has increased during the past 10 years. The Navy and Marine
Corps have generally recruited greater proportions of Hispanics than the
Army and Air Force. The Marine Corps has retained more Hispanics, as evidenced
by larger percentages of Hispanic Marines in the enlisted force during
the past 10 years.
Almost 9 percent of newly commissioned officers were African American,
4 percent were Hispanic, and 9 percent were "Other" minorities.
Within the active duty officer corps, the percentages were about 8, 4,
and 5, for the African American, Hispanic, and "Other" subgroups,
respectively. Although African Americans comprised a much smaller proportion
of officers than of enlistees, when compared to college graduates in the
civilian work force 21-49 years old (which is 8 percent African American,
5 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent "Other"), minorities appear
to be proportionately represented and not on the decline within the commissioned
Warrant officers account for 8 percent of active duty officer accessions
and 7 percent of the officer corps. Warrant officers do not serve in the
Air Force. Warrant officers on active duty have greater representation
of African Americans and Hispanics than among commissioned officers (16
and 5 percent warrant officers versus 8 and 4 percent commissioned officers,
respectively). Minority warrant officers are underrepresented in comparison
with the civilian labor force.
Racial/ethnic findings for the Reserve Component were similar. African
Americans were overrepresented, Hispanics were underrepresented, and "Others"
were represented at population benchmark levels among NPS and prior service
Selected Reserve accessions. As with the Active Component, the proportions
of minorities among Selected Reserve officers were smaller than for enlisted
personnel, but the percentages were not out of line with appropriate civilian
college graduate minority percentages.
Warrant officers account for 5 percent of Selected Reserve duty officer
accessions and 9 percent of the officer corps. Warrant officers do not
serve in the Air National Guard or the Air Force Reserve. There are fewer
minorities in the National Guard and Reserve warrant ranks as compared
to commissioned officers. As with the Active Component, minority warrant
officers in the Selected Reserve are underrepresented compared with the
civilian labor force.
Gender. Women comprised 18 percent
of NPS active duty accessions and 24 percent of NPS accessions to the
Selected Reserve (17 percent of the numerically larger prior service segment
of Reserve Component accessions were women) compared to 50 percent of
18- to 24- year-old civilians. Among enlisted members on active duty,
14 percent were women. Among comparable Selected Reservists, 16 percent
were women. Service Reserve units have greater representation of women
(20 percent) than the National Guard (12 percent) components (Army and
Air Force only). This is generally due to the Army National Guard's heavier
combat arms mix which precludes women from many of the positions in those
units. The representation of women among active duty officer accessions
and within the officer corps was 20 and 15 percent, respectively. Similar
percentages were seen among Selected Reserve officers (18 percent for
Military women, across the enlisted force and officer corps in both the
Active and Reserve Components, are more likely to be members of a racial/ethnic
minority group than are military men. In fact, half of the women in the
Active Component enlisted force are members of minority groups.
Although women constitute a smaller proportion of the Total Force than
men, their representation has grown greatly since the inception of the
All Volunteer Force. During recent years, the Services have opened more
jobs to women. Since the introduction of the current policies on women
in the military 5 years ago (FY 1994), the percentage of Active Component
women has increased by more than 2 percentage points.
Marital Status. In addition to the
growing presence of women in the military, marriage among Servicemembers
has also been on the rise. During the last 25 years, the enlisted force
has moved from a predominantly single male establishment to one with a
greater emphasis on family. In FY 1973, approximately 40 percent of enlisted
members were married. Today, a majority of soldiers, sailors, marines,
and airmen are married. Newcomers to the military are less likely than
their civilian age counterparts to be married, but as time goes on military
members are more likely to be married than those in the civilian sector.
Among enlisted members, 51 percent of those on active duty and in the
Reserve Component were married as of the end of FY 1999. In the military,
men were more likely to be married than women.
As one might expect, owing to their being older and financially more secure
on average, officers were more likely to be married (70 percent of the
Active Component and 72 percent of the Reserve Component officer corps
were married) than enlisted personnel. Again, women officers were less
likely than their male colleagues to be married.
Education Level. The Military Services
value and support the education of their members. The emphasis on education
was evident in the data for FY 1999. Practically all active duty and Selected
Reserve enlisted accessions had a high school diploma or equivalent, well
above civilian youth proportions (79 percent of 18-24 year-olds). More
important, 93 percent of NPS active duty and 87 percent of NPS Selected
Reserve enlisted accessions held a regular high school diploma.
Given that most officers are required to possess at least a baccalaureate
college degree upon or soon after commissioning and that colleges and
universities are among the Services' main commissioning sources (i.e.,
Service academies and ROTC), the academic standing of officers is not
surprising. The fact that 92 percent of active duty officer accessions
and 97 percent of the officer corps (both excluding those with unknown
education credentials) were degree holders (approximately 18 and 45 percent
advanced degrees) is in keeping with policy and the professional status
and expectations of officers. Likewise, 85 percent of Reserve Component
officer accessions and 91 percent of the total Reserve Component officer
corps held at least a bachelor's degree, with 23 and 32 percent possessing
advanced degrees, respectively.
Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) Scores.
Enlisted members tend to have higher cognitive aptitude than the civilian
youth population, as measured by scores on the military's enlistment test.
Persons who score in Categories I and II (65th to 99th percentiles) tend
to be above average in trainability; those in Category III (31st to 64th
percentiles), average; those in Category IV (10th to 30th percentiles),
below average; and those in Category V (1st to 9th percentiles), markedly
below average. The percentage of recruits in Categories I to II (38 percent)
was higher than for their civilian counterparts (36 percent). Category
III accessions (61 percent) greatly exceeded civilian group proportions
(34 percent), while the percentage of recruits in Category IV (1 percent)
was much lower than in the civilian population (21 percent). No enlistees
were in Category V, whereas 10 percent of the civilian population scores
in this category. Test score data were not reported for officers because
of test variation by Service and commissioning source. Tough entry requirements
(e.g., SAT scores) for the commissioning sources as well as the college
degree hurdle ensure quality among officers.
High-Quality Recruits. To predict
recruit quality in areas such as persistence, training outcome, and job
performance in the enlisted ranks, the Services use level of education
and AFQT scores. Because high school diploma graduates are more likely
to complete their contracted enlistment terms and higher AFQT-scoring
recruits perform better in training and on the job, the Services strive
to enlist AFQT Category I-IIIA (50th percentile and above on the AFQT)
high school diploma graduates.
The recent drawdown led the Services to redesign jobs so that incumbents
assume more diverse workloads and greater responsibilities. Incumbents
must perform more tasks and tasks of greater complexity. The Services
need more personnel of high-quality levels to meet these job demands.
In FY 1999, the proportion of NPS high-quality recruits ranged from 52
percent in the Army to 72 percent in the Air Force.
Reading Ability. Like aptitude levels, reading levels were higher in the
enlisted military than in the non-military sector. FY 1999 NPS active
duty enlisted accessions had a mean reading level typical of an 11th grade
student whereas the mean for civilian youth was within the 10th grade
Geographic Representation. During
the last 15 years, the percentage of recruits from the Northeast and North
Central Regions has decreased with a corresponding increase in the percentage
of recruits from the South and West Regions. The geographic distribution
of enlisted active accessions for FY 1999 shows that the South, and in
particular the South Atlantic and West South Central Divisions of this
region, continued to have the greatest representation. More than two-fifths
of NPS accessions hailed from the South. In fact, this was the only region
to be slightly overrepresented among enlisted accessions compared to its
proportion of 18-24 year-olds. The representation ratio (percentage of
accessions divided by percentage of 18-24 year-olds from the region) for
NPS active accessions from the South was 1.2, compared to 0.8 for the
Northeast and North Central and 1.0 for the West.
Representation in Occupations. The
Services need a steady supply of combat and combat support personnel;
they rely heavily on infantrymen and guncrew specialists. In addition,
the Services require technicians, mechanics, health care specialists,
and other support personnel. Assignment to and training in one of the
military's many occupational specialties, which carry varying cognitive
and noncognitive demands, is part of the enlistment or commissioning package.
Less than one-third (29 percent) of FY 1999 active duty enlisted personnel
were in occupations such as infantry, craftsmen, and service and supply
handling. A plurality of enlisted members (43 percent) served in mid-level
skill jobs in medical and dental, functional support and administration,
and electrical/mechanical equipment repair. The remainder were in high-skill
areas (21 percent), including electronic equipment repair, communications
and intelligence, and other allied specialties, or in non-occupational
categories (7 percent).
During the last two decades, assignment patterns for women have shifted
to increase their presence in "non-traditional" jobs. Previously,
most enlisted women were in either functional support and administration
or medical and dental jobs. By FY 1999, smaller proportions (33 and 16
percent, respectively) served in these jobs. Women were two and a half
times more likely than men to serve in the "traditional" female
occupations, functional support and administration and medical/dental
specialties. Women are excluded from infantry and other assignments in
which the primary mission is to physically engage the enemy. However,
the direct ground combat rule allows women to serve on aircraft and ships
engaged in combat. The proportion of women serving in such operational
positions (i.e., gun crews and seamanship specialties) in FY 1999 was
nearly 5 percent. In contrast, the percentage of men in these occupations
was approximately 19 percent.
In FY 1999, the proportions of African Americans and Whites were similar
in four of the nine occupational areas (communications and intelligence,
medical and dental, other allied specialists, and craftsmen). In three
areas (infantry, electronic equipment repair, and electrical/mechanical
equipment repair) the proportions of Whites were higher. African Americans
were still more heavily represented in the functional support and administration
and the service and supply areas.
The most common occupational area for active duty officers was tactical
operations (e.g., fighter pilots, combat commanders; 38 percent) with
health care a distant second (19 percent). Assignment patterns differed
between men and women. Greater percentages of men were in tactical operations
(43 percent), whereas greater percentages of women were in health care
(44 percent) and administration (13 percent). In FY 1999, racial and ethnic
groups of officers generally had similar assignment patterns across occupational
areas although there was a lower percentage of African Americans in tactical
operations and a greater percentage of African Americans in administration
and supply areas.
The occupational distributions among Active and Reserve Components varied
somewhat. In FY 1999, 17 percent of the enlisted Active Component were
in infantry and related occupations in contrast to 19 percent of enlisted
Selected Reserves. The Reserve Component is somewhat "lighter"
in technical occupational areas such as electronic and electrical/mechanical
equipment repair, and communications and intelligence, and somewhat "heavier"
in functional support and administration, craftsmen, and supply. There
were also some occupational differences between Active and Reserve officers;
the Reserve Component had slightly smaller proportions in tactical operations
and engineering and maintenance but slightly larger proportions in health
care and supply. However, differences were greater between Services than
between Active and Reserve members.
Socioeconomic Status. Socioeconomic
representation in the volunteer force is a key interest because of concerns
that our Nation's defense might fall heavily on the poor and the underclass.
DoD conducts the Survey of Recruit Socioeconomic Backgrounds annually
among active duty and reserve enlisted accessions to assess this issue.
Based on a summary of parents' education, employment status, occupation,
and home ownership, FY 1999 data showed that both active and reserve recruits
are primarily from families in the middle and lower middle socioeconomic
strata. The high end of the distribution was not as well represented among
the backgrounds of new recruits as in census data on parents of civilian
youth ages 14-21.
U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard
is the smallest of the Armed Services. It is a part of the Department
of Transportation during peacetime, but during times of war it becomes
a part of the Department of Defense. Compared to the other Services, the
Coast Guard is very similar on demographic variables, with slightly greater
proportions of males and Whites.
The FY 1999 Population
Representation report shows both the diversity and the quality of the
Total Force. Men and women of various racial and ethnic groups of divergent
social backgrounds, from every state in our country, serve as Active and
Selected Reserve enlisted members and officers of the Army, Navy, Marine
Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The mean cognitive ability and educational
levels of these soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen are above the average
of comparably aged U.S. citizens.
Although the force
is diverse, it is not an exact replica of society as a whole. The military
way of life is more attractive to some members of society than to others.
Among the enlisted ranks, the proportion of African Americans continues
to exceed comparably aged population counts. Hispanics are underrepresented
in the military, but their percentages have risen over the years. Minorities
comprise proportionally less of the officer corps; however, their representation
levels are in keeping with minority statistics among the pool of college
graduates from which second lieutenants and ensigns are drawn. Women continue
to be underrepresented in the military, compared to their proportion in
civilian society. However, accession statistics show that women continue
to gain in both numerical and proportional strength.
The All Volunteer
Force is now facing increased recruiting goals with low enlistment propensity
(compared to the early 1990s), ambiguous youth reactions to humanitarian
and peacekeeping missions and the pace of deployments, and budget constraints.
Population representation is often affected by such external and internal
events. Thus, there is a continuing need to track demographic changes
and potential upheaval in the balance of military benefits and burdens
that befall population segments of society. Attention to human resource
issues beyond numerical representation is also necessary to manage recruiting
and to promote readiness.
Go to Chapter
Go to table