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Age. As shown in Table 4.4, officers, on average, tend to be older than enlisted personnel. Upon commissioning in FY 2004, the average officer was 27 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 2004, the average age of newly commissioned officers ranged from 23 years for Service academy graduates to 31 years for officers accessed through direct appointment. [footnote 5]

Table 4.4. FY 2004 Mean Age of Active Component Officer Accessions and Officer Corps in Comparison to Enlisted Personnel



Active Component Accessions



Active Component Force



Also see Appendix Table B-30 (Age by Service).

Figures 4.3 and 4.4 (together with Appendix Table B-30) highlight the military's emphasis on youth. The importance of youth is particularly salient in the Marine Corps, in which approximately 10 percent of newly commissioned officers were 31 or older. In contrast, the proportion of officer accessions in this age range was 18 percent in the Army, 24 percent in the Navy, and 17 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 2004 Active Component officer accessions, by Service.

Figure 4.4. Age of FY 2004 Active Component officer corps, by Service.

Figure 4.5 shows that the drawdown that began in FY 1986 was reflected by a trend of increasing average age and time in service for the officer corps. Since FY 2000, as officer accessions increased and officers who were commissioned during the buildup of the early 1980s reached retirement points in their careers, the average time in service showed a slight corresponding drop. In FY 2004, average time in service increased by approximately one month to 132 months, similar to the level in FY 2000. The average officer age remained nearly constant at somewhat over 34 years.

Figure 4.5. Active Component officers' mean years of age and months of service, FYs 1974–2004.

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

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