This is the 31st annual Department of Defense (DoD) report on social representation in the U.S. Military Services. In response to a mandate by the Senate Committee on Armed Services (Report 93-884, May 1974), the Directorate for Accession Policy, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) has provided annual data addressing the quality and representativeness of military personnel since fiscal year (FY) 1975. Except where otherwise noted, data are provided by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). Due to differences in data flow and definitions, values provided will not always match official figures reported by the Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, other Department of Defense agencies, or the Military Services.
Originally, the report was limited to an assessment of the active duty enlisted force. In keeping with an increased emphasis and reliance on a Total Force, Accession Policy has expanded this effort to include statistics not only for enlisted personnel but also for officers and reservists. Data are presented for each of the Military Services and, since 1998, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Although an armed force, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security (as of March 1, 2003) except in times of war and national emergency when it reports to the Department of the Navy.
This report presents a broad array of characteristics—beyond routine demographics (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity)—of the nation’s largest and most diverse employer. Estimates of cognitive ability (e.g., education, reading grade level, Armed Forces Qualification Test [AFQT] scores) and service characteristics (e.g., years of service and pay grade) also are used to describe the force. Further, historical data are included to aid in analyzing trends to render the statistics more interpretable. This allows the reader to view recruit quality, representation rates, and the like in 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 demographics and other characteristics 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 and maintaining the force. Years of military service and pay grade provide measures of the degree of personnel experience as well as career progress that are particularly informative when examined by gender and race/ethnicity. Representation levels may change only slightly from year to year but monitoring racial/ethnic and gender participation, together with additional relevant factors, maintains needed attention on the characteristics and quality levels of the men and women who defend our country.
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 comprehensive contents of the Population Representation report.