Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Appendix A-E

Chapter 1


This is the 25th annual Department of Defense (DoD) report on social representation in the U.S. Military Services.   Such a profile of the social demography of the military was initiated in response to a mandate by the Senate Committee on Armed Services (Report 93-884, May 1974).  Since fiscal year (FY) 1975, 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 enlisted accessions and personnel compared to the civilian population.  In keeping with an increased emphasis and reliance on a Total Force, Accession Policy has expanded this report to include statistics not only for active duty enlisted personnel but for officers and reservists as well.

Added for the first time this year are data on the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).  Although the Coast Guard is routinely under the Department of Transportation, in times of war and national emergency, this armed force reports to the Department of the Navy.  The USCG has fewer personnel requirements than any of the Military Services but it confronts many of the same personnel management issues including recruitment, personnel selection, and representation.

The term "representation" may suggest a focus on race/ethnicity and gender demographic groups.  However, this report presents a broader array of characteristics.  In addition to routine demographics (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity) estimates of cognitive ability supplemented with more complex composite measures (e.g., socioeconomic status) and service characteristics (e.g., years of service and pay grade) 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 demographic, educational, aptitude, and socioeconomic levels 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.  Years of service and pay provide measures of the degree of personnel experience as well as career progress that are particularly informative when examined by gender and race/ethnicity.  Indeed this report has increased in volume and coverage over the years, but it has not outgrown its usefulness.  Representation levels may change only slightly from year to year but monitoring racial/ethnic and gender participation together with additional relevant factors maintains an ever present focus on equal opportunity. 

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.

Fiscal Year 1998: A New Military for a New Age

FY 1998 marks the 25th Anniversary of the All Volunteer Force (AVF).  The enthusiastic participation of Blacks in the military and the expanded use of women has been a hallmark of the AVF.  FY 1998 also is the 50th Anniversary of the integration of minorities and women in the military.  In July 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 and ended the policy of racially segregating units.  A month earlier, in that same year, Congress passed the Women's Armed Forces Integration Act.  At the crossroads of these two anniversaries, it is an appropriate time to reflect on the results of these policy changes and how they have altered the U.S. military to make it one of the finest and most complex that history has known.

At the close of FY 1998, the Total Force stood at just under 1.4 million active duty members and more than 881,000 Selected Reservists.  Despite further trimming of the force during FY 1998 and a continued rebound in the number of male youth in the population, recruiting remains a challenge.  Labor market competition is particularly fierce given increasing college enrollment rates and a booming economy with concomitant low unemployment.  Maintaining the volunteer spirit involves more than relatively low accession requirements and an ample youth population. In the past, recruiting goals were met in the face of the declining male youth population of the 1980s in large part because of enlistment and retention trends of minorities and women.   Data for the past half century are shown in Figure 1.1, with some projections for the future.

Figure 1.1.  The population of 18-year-old males and Service non-prior service (NPS) recruiting requirements for fiscal years 1950–2010 (projected).

Diversity continues to grow.  Blacks maintain their strong military presence and have made gains in the officer corps.  Hispanics and other racial/ethnic minorities comprise notable proportions of enlisted members and officers alike.  The real representation issue concerns women.  While they comprise half of the youth population, they stand at less than 20 percent of both enlisted and officer accessions.  However, these figures are all-time highs in the representation of women entering the military.   Before the AVF, in FY 1964, less than 1 percent of enlisted accessions were women.  Women climbed to 5 percent in 1973.  Ten years ago, women stood at 13 percent of accessions and as of FY 1998 they accounted for 18 percent of new recruits.   At just over 19 percent, their representation among officer accessions was even stronger.  The representation levels for women among active component enlisted members and the officer corps were also record breaking at 14 percent, each.

Remaining Challenges

Volunteers for today's military lifestyle and missions come from a myriad of demographic and social lines and paths: Black, White, and "Other"; North, South, East, and West; middle class, rich, and poor; married and single; and men and women. This constellation of people train and fight or keep peace in an unstable interwoven world including the volatility of Kosovo and the lethal potential brought to the fore by the nuclear weapons potential of unpredictable states such as Iraq and North Korea.  In addition to search and rescue missions, the domestically based Coast Guard must tackle such difficult duties as drug interdiction. 

The challenges today's deployed military personnel confront are different than the challenges of those deployed in the wars of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has struggled with its new and multifaceted strategic role in the world. While today's military has fewer people, the new strategic realities mean there are more roles and missions for those reduced numbers to fulfill. Additionally, the end of the draft brought with it a recruiting climate which compelled manpower and personnel planners to think outside of the box. With a strong economy and larger numbers of college-bound youth, recruiting and representation are tandem concerns that today's military personnel management must confront. Retention within and beyond the initial period of obligation is also critical.  Reducing personnel turnover and turbulence not only eases recruiting strain but feeds needed levels of diversity and experience to the career force.

Today many minorities and women not only participate in the military, but also achieve high levels of success and recognition. While the news is good, significant challenges remain.  For example, it is easy to over-emphasize the problems of women's increased integration or under-emphasize the need to continue to foster positive race relations.  Fifty years ago, minorities and women were given a permanent role in the military.  Today's volunteer military relies upon the resultant multicultural cadre of quality men and women who stand ready to carry out missions at home and around the globe. In the interest of military cohesion, morale, and readiness in the 21st century, progress toward equitable access to the risks and rewards of military service must continue.

Data Sources

The primary sources for this report are computerized data files on military personnel maintained by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC).  In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides the bulk of the comparison data on the national population.  Though the data sources have remained constant, refinements have been made over the years, most of them in regard to the civilian comparisons.  Starting with the report for FY 1994, Census data were adjusted to provide a more accurate comparison for military applicants and accessions (yearly average rather than last month of the fiscal year). Age comparisons for prior-service enlisted accessions to the Selected Reserve were also adjusted, from the 18- to 44-year-old civilian labor force to the 20- to 39-year-old civilian labor force.  Comparisons for Selected Reserve enlisted members were changed from 18- to 44-year-old civilians to 18- to 49-year-olds.  Starting with data for FY 1995, a further age refinement was introduced for comparisons with the officer corps.  Previously the comparison group for Active Component officers comprised civilian workforce college graduates who were 21 and older.  This was adjusted by establishing an upper bound at age 49, making the more precise comparison, college graduates aged 21 to 49 who are in the workforce. In addition, beginning with the FY 1995 Population Representation report, DMDC provided edited, rather than raw, data on applicants for enlistment.  Last year, prior service accession data for the Active Component were added. U.S. Coast Guard representation statistics are included for the first time this year.  A brief description of the data sources for FY 1998 follows:


Data Source

Active Components

Applicants to Enlisted Military

DMDC U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) Edit Files, October 1997 through September 1998

Enlisted Accessions

DMDC USMEPCOM Edit Files, October 1997 through September 1998

Enlisted Force

DMDC Active and Loss Edit File, September 1998

Officer Accessions

DMDC Officer Gain Files, October 1997 through September 1998

Officer Corps

DMDC Officer Master and Loss Edit File,  September 1998

Recruit Socioeconomic Status

DMDC Survey of Recruit Socioeconomic Backgrounds, October 1997 through September 1998

Reserve Components

Selected Reserve Enlisted and Officer Accessions 

Reserve Components Common Personnel Data System (RCCPDS), October 1997 through September 1998

Selected Reserve Enlisted Force and Officer Corps

Reserve Components Common Personnel Data System (RCCPDS), September 1998

Civilian Comparisons

Civilian Comparison Groups for Applicants, Accessions, and Active and Reserve Members

Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey Files, October 1997 through September 1998

Civilian Socioeconomic Comparison Data

Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey Files, October 1997 through September 1998

Civilian Comparisons for Military Entrance Test Data

Profile of American Youth (Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense [Manpower, Reserve Affairs, and Logistics], March 1982).

 Go to Chapter 2 .


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