Myth of the Underprivileged Soldier
Tim Kane and James Jay Carafano have a USA Today piece “Debunking the myth of the underprivileged soldier.” They argue that, contrary to the rantings of New York Times columnist Bob Herbert and New York congressman Charlie Rangel, the typical American volunteer soldier is not a sad sack forced to endure the risks of combat because of a dearth of other choices.
Some excerpted facts:
- According to a comprehensive study of all enlistees for the years 1998-99 and 2003 that The Heritage Foundation just released, the typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is. Indeed, for every two recruits coming from the poorest neighborhoods, there are three recruits coming from the richest neighborhoods.
- 98% joined with high-school diplomas or better. By comparison, 75% of the general population meets that standard. Among all three-digit ZIP code areas in the USA in 2003 (one can study larger areas by isolating just the first three digits of ZIP codes), not one had a higher graduation rate among civilians than among its recruits.
- In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, more volunteers have emerged from the middle and upper classes and fewer from the lowest-income groups. In 1999, both the highest fifth of the nation in income and the lowest fifth were slightly underrepresented among military volunteers. Since 2001, enlistments have increased in the top two-fifths of income levels but have decreased among the lowest fifth.
- Allegations that recruiters are disproportionately targeting blacks also don’t hold water. First, whites make up 77.4% of the nation’s population and 75.8% of its military volunteers, according to our analysis of Department of Defense data. Second, we explored the 100 three-digit ZIP code areas with the highest concentration of blacks, which range from 24.1% black up to 68.6%. These areas, which account for 14.6% of the adult population, produced 16.6% of recruits in 1999 and only 14.1% in 2003.
These data notwithstanding, this myth will continue as the conventional wisdom. Mostly, I suspect, this is because elite journalists and other opinion shapers simply can not fathom why anyone would willingly volunteer for military service if they had other options.
Military Recruiting Shortfall Hits Key Jobs Hardest
Military Attracting Fewer Black, Urban Recruits
Army Doubles Idiot Quotient
Army Recruiting High School Dropouts without GED
Defense Department Seeks to Raise Enlistment Age to 42
Pentagon Creating Student Database for Recruiting
Army Keeping Problem Soldiers to Keep Troop Levels Up
Army Using Video Game as Recruiting Tool
Army Offers 15-Month Enlistment Option
Army Taking Recruiting Holiday
Blue to Green Moving Slowly
Army Recruiters Say They Feel Pressure to Bend Rules
Recruiting Soldiers During Wartime Difficult
Military Recruiters Target Friends and Family
Recruiting During Wartime
RECRUTING AND MORALE