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Chapter 4:



As shown in Table 4.4, officers, on average, tend to be older than enlisted personnel. Upon commissioning in FY 2002, the average officer was nearly 28 years old in contrast to 20 years old for the average enlisted accession. The mean age of all active officers was 34 years, while that of enlisted members was 27 years. The mean age of officer accessions varies by source of commission. In FY 2002, the average age of newly commissioned officers ranged from less than 24 years for Service academy graduates to nearly 32 years for officers accessed through direct appointment.[Footnote 5]

Table 4.4. FY 2002 Mean Age of Active Component Officer Accessions and Officer Corps in Comparison to Enlisted Personnel

  Officers Enlisted
Active Component Accessions 27.7 20.1
Active Component Force 34.3 27.0

Also see Appendix Table B-31 (Age by Service)

Figures 4.3 and 4.4 (together with Appendix Table B-31) highlight the military's emphasis on youth. The importance of youth is particularly salient in the Marine Corps, in which approximately 14 percent of newly commissioned officers were 31 or older. In contrast, the proportion of officer accessions in this age range was 24 percent in the Army, 28 percent in the Navy, and 29 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 4-3
Figure 4.3. Age of FY 2002 Active Component officer accessions, by Service.


Figure 4-4
Figure 4.4. Age of FY 2002 Active Component officer corps, by Service.

Figure 4.5 shows that FY 2002 broke the recent trend of increasing average age and time in service for the officer corps. The average officer age remained nearly constant at somewhat over 34 years in FY 2002, as did the average time in service at slightly less than 11 years. The trends in age and tenure of the officer corps reflect the transition from a period of drawdown to a period of stability in the size of the force.

Figure 4-5
Figure 4.5. Active Component officers’ mean years of age and months of service, FYs 1973–2002.

[Footnote 5]  Data from Defense Manpower Data Center. [back to paragraph]

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