Active Component Officers

Chapter 4

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As shown in Table 4.4, officers, on average, tend to be older than enlisted personnel.  Upon commissioning in FY 1999, the average officer was 26 years old in contrast to 19 years old for the average enlisted accession.  The mean age of all active officers was 34 years and that of enlisted members was 27 years.  The mean age of officer accessions varies by source of commission.  In FY 1999, the average age of newly commissioned officers ranged from 23 years for Service academy graduates to 31 years for officers commissioned directly. [1]  

Table 4.4.  FY 1999 Mean Age of Active Component Officer Accessions and Officer Corps in Comparison to Enlisted Personnel




Active Component Accessions



Active Component Force




  Figures 4.3 and 4.4 (together with Appendix Table B-31) highlight the military's emphasis on youth.  In particular, Marine Corps officer accessions and officer corps were younger than those in other Services.  About 6 percent of Marine Corps officers were 31 or older upon entry.  The proportion within this age range among the other Services' newly commissioned officers was greater but still notably small.  The percentage who were 31 years or older was 12 percent in the Army, 28 percent in the Navy, and 16 percent in the Air Force.  The rigorous physical demands and rapid deployment of Marines, and this Service’s absence of officers in medical and ministry fields, no doubt are related to the relative youth of Marine Corps officers.

            Figure 4.5 shows that along with age, there has been a steady increase in the tenure of officers.  On average, as of FY 1999, the typical commissioned officer was around 34 years old and had been in uniform for nearly 11 years.

Figure 4.3.  Age of FY 1999 Active Component officer accessions, by Service.

Figure 4.4.  Age of FY 1999 Active Component officer corps, by Service.

Figure 4.5.  Active Component officers’ mean years of age and months of service, FYs 1973–1999.  

[1]          Data from Defense Manpower Data Center.

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