News Release

February 7, 2017

For Immediate Release
Contact: Whitney Doll, Senior Communications Specialist, 703-861-1351

CNA Releases New Military Population Representation Report

Arlington, VA Today CNA published the most recent edition of Population Representation in the Military Services (Pop Rep), the annual study of armed forces demographics.

Prepared by CNA’s Resource Analysis Division for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, this report highlights recent and historical personnel trends in the Department of Defense (DOD) services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force) and the U.S. Coast Guard. This year’s report contains data on those accessed into the military in fiscal year 2015 (FY15) and outlines the demographic characteristics of applicants, new recruits, enlisted personnel and officers. The report covers the active component of the services as well as reserves.

The U.S. military was drawing down in FY15. Drawdowns were sharpest in the active component of the Army and Marine Corps, the services in which growth had been strongest during the peak years of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The falling unemployment rate had little effect on recruit quality, as the U.S. military continued to markedly exceed DOD recruit quality benchmarks in FY15, in particular with regards to education and Armed Forces Qualification Test scores.

"In FY15, the economy was not as strong as the historically low unemployment rate suggested. This means that the services continued to enjoy a relatively strong recruiting market, a trend that may not persist going forward," said Ms. Anita Hattiangadi, a research team leader in CNA’s Resource Analysis Division.

The makeup of the active component forces shows a number of continuing trends in this year’s report. The socioeconomic background of FY15 accessions generally reflect the U.S. population distribution, although enlisted recruits from neighborhoods in the lowest and highest household income brackets are somewhat underrepresented. Geographically, accessions from the South are overrepresented, providing 20 percent more accessions than their population share would predict. In the enlisted force, racial minorities are overrepresented, primarily due to overrepresentation of African Americans.

The percentage of women in the enlisted force has moved little in the past two decades, fluctuating between 14 and 15 percent. By contrast, the percentage of female commissioned officers has steadily climbed throughout, hitting 17.7 percent in FY15. For both the enlisted and officer forces, military women are considerably more racially and ethnically diverse than men; this difference is large and is found in every service.

DOD has provided this congressionally mandated annual report on the demographic and service-related characteristics of U.S. military personnel every year since 1974. The latest version, as well as all reports since 1997, is available online at

CNA is a nonprofit research and analysis organization dedicated to developing actionable solutions to complex problems of national importance. With nearly 700 scientists, analysts and professional staff, CNA takes a real-world approach to gathering data. Its one-of-a-kind field program places analysts on carriers and military bases, in squad rooms and classrooms, and working side-by-side with a wide array of government decision-makers around the world. In addition to defense-related matters for the U.S. Department of the Navy, CNA’s research portfolio includes criminal justice, homeland security, energy security, water resources, enterprise systems and data analysis, and education.

Note to writers and editors: CNA is not an acronym and is correctly referenced as "CNA, a research organization in Arlington, VA."


Elizabeth Cutler
Sr Communications Specialist

John Stimpson
Communications Associate