” Who serves in the active-duty ranks of the U.S. all-volunteer military? Conventional wisdom holds that military service disproportionately attracts minorities and men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many believe that troops enlist because they have few options, not because they want to serve their country. Others believe that the war in Iraq has forced the military to lower its recruiting standards.
Previous Heritage Foundation studies that examined the backgrounds of enlisted personnel refute this interpretation. This report expands on those studies by using an improved methodology to study the demographic characteristics of newly commissioned officers and personnel who enlisted in 2006 and 2007.
Any discussion of troop quality must take place in context. A soldier’s demographic characteristics are of little importance in the military, which values honor, leadership, self-sacrifice, courage, and integrity-qualities that cannot be quantified. Nonetheless, any assessment of the quality of recruits can take place only on the basis of objective criteria. Demographic characteristics are a poor proxy for the quality of those who serve in the armed forces, but they can help to explain which Americans volunteer for military service and why.
Based on an understanding of the limitations of any objective definition of quality, this report compares military volunteers to the civilian population on four demographic characteristics: household income, education level, racial and ethnic background, and regional origin. This report finds that:” READ IT ALL HERE