Fiscal Year 2001: Military Opportunities
Offering entry-level positions, with paid training and numerous benefits, the Armed Services is one of the largest employers in our nation. In FY 2001, approximately 183,000 non-prior service (NPS) applicants were accepted into the enlisted ranks and about 18,000 new officers joined the officer corps of the Active Components. In addition, about 72,000 NPS enlistees began serving their country in the Selected Reserve during FY 2001. That's about 273,000 job openings annually. At the close of FY 2001, the Total Force stood at just under 1.4 million active duty members and more than 867,000 Selected Reservists. (Data for the past half century are shown in Figure 1.1, with some projections for the future.)
The military provides numerous employment opportunities to today's youth. Members of the Services receive training and work experience in a multitude of occupational specialties — from infantry to maintenance and repair to medical to equipment operator to administrator. Servicemembers manage, operate, maintain, and coordinate the use of complicated weapon systems gaining critical technical and leadership experience as they progress through the ranks. With close to 400,000 new jobs each year, the military provides training and experience in a diverse array of technical specialties.
The Armed Forces is host to one of the most diverse workforces in our country, not solely in terms of the numerous types of jobs or missions available. Men and women from various racial and ethnic groups, of different social standing, and from all geographic areas have equal opportunity to seek a military career, provided they meet the basic entry requirements of the Services. Diversity in the forces is now a fact. The Services enlist and commission men and women from many walks of life, who perform together as a cohesive team to accomplish their missions as they admirably serve to defend our nation.
Serving in the military is not without sacrifice or burden. Servicemembers contribute to national defense in a variety of ways, through warfighting, peacekeeping, humanitarian, and other missions. No single group should bear the brunt of the burden, particularly during times of war, nor profit from the benefits of training, experience, and prestige. Thus, it is important for the Services to strive for a representative force.
With respect to race/ethnicity, the Armed Forces maintain a fairly representative workforce. Blacks continue their historically strong military presence in the enlisted ranks, at levels higher than population proportions. This minority group has achieved representation parity in the officer corps. Hispanics remain underrepresented but are making gains within the enlisted ranks and officer corps. Hispanic representation is important to monitor in light of increasing Hispanic population proportions and related issues of citizenship, English language proficiency, and high school graduation rates.
Unlike racial and ethnic minorities, the role of women in the military is still unsettled if not controversial. Although women comprise half of the youth population, in FY 2001, they made up only 18 and 20 percent of enlisted and officer accessions, respectively. However, these figures are nearly all-time highs in the representation of women entering the military. Before the All Volunteer Force, in FY 1964, less than 1 percent of enlisted accessions were women. Women climbed to 5 percent in 1973 and shortly thereafter, they topped 10 percent. Today, that figure has almost doubled, even in the face of a more streamlined force.
Although much progress has been achieved with regard to gender equity, much work remains. The representation of women has increased and many previously closed positions have been opened to women. The military continues to consider current and future roles for women in uniform.