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The Washington Post spins recruiting data in an interesting way:
As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly released Pentagon demographic data show that the military is leaning heavily for recruits on economically depressed, rural areas where youths' need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to war.If you read that with the onoff switch in your head in the off position you might be inclined to think that's an unfair burden for the poor to bear. But if "nearly half" of recruits come from one group, then over half come from another - in this case, that group would be people with higher incomes.
Many of today's recruits are financially strapped, with nearly half coming from lower-middle-class to poor households, according to new Pentagon data based on Zip codes and census estimates of mean household income.
I haven't had time to look at that actual report yet, and the Washington Post doesn't offer the full document - we'll just have to take their word for what it says. But that passage above isn't the only oddly revealing quote in the Post's coverage. Here's their description of Martinsville, Virginia, a town with higher than average recruiting rates:
Tucked into the Piedmont foothills of southern Virginia, where jobs in the local economy are scarce as NASCAR fans are plentiful,I stopped reading there.
Odd that the impoverished NASCAR fans of Martinsville don't simply riot. No one in the media would blame them. It worked for the "French youth" in Paris, after all.
Those interested in actual facts and numbers on recruiting might find this GAO report useful.
And in a post last month we noted a few other facts that should be obvious to anyone considering recruiting numbers without trying to "spin" them to their own gain:
Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey, in a letter to the Washington Post:
On Oct. 11 the Defense Department released its recruiting figures for fiscal 2005. Much attention has been given to the Army missing its goal of 80,000 recruits by 6,600. Despite some alarmist rhetoric, the Army is not in a recruiting crisis or considering a draft.A notable point - that 2 percent figure. Recruiting has been nearly steady-state for a decade over all branches of the military - we recently looked at facts and figures here. While one fact remains undeniable - the Army did fall short of it's raised recruiting goal this year - a corollary is false, that being "because of the war".
To put this year's shortfall in perspective, the total of 73,400 people recruited is within 2 percent of the average recruitment each year for the past 10 years.
Although in fact, one group of recruits was undoubtedly deterred from joining for just that reason - those who enlist solely "for an education" or "for the benefits". No doubt that incentive is still weighed as a major factor by those considering a future in uniform in any branch of service, but 4 years of the war on terror has now eliminated any expectation that such benefit comes at no cost to those who choose it. Having seen much media coverage of those who decided to bolt at the first sound of the guns while admitting their motive for enlisting was only for personal gain, we can assume many such people exist. You can also take my word for it based on personal experience - I've met several over the past two decades. Now of course, they must find other avenues to achieve their goals.
The unappreciated fact is that based on the real numbers, any loss of such potential troops has been offset by a like number of new recruits who are willing to move towards the sound of the guns. I've met several of them over the past two decades too - and many more over the last four years. I prefer their company to that of the other sort.
It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."
Here are the reports on demographics from recent years: 1997 - 1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003
Those who've answered the call come from all walks of life, all races, economic backgrounds, and regions of the US. It's past time to stop distorting numbers to define this new generation of heroes as losers with no other options in life.
Does the Washington Post fail to forget that the coach of the Washington Redskins is somewhat, dare I shall say connected? to Nascar. Does the writer Ann Scott Tyson think this is going to get her 50 yardline tickets for this sunday or the next?Posted by Ray at November 4, 2005 08:55 PM
They just want to perpetuate the myth that the military are a bunch of dumb hicks or ghetto kids who are being taken advantage of...Posted by armynurseboy at November 4, 2005 10:41 PM
Nice catch. Oh, the fun we can have with stats...
It reminds me of a Washington Post story a couple years ago about the disappearance of the middle class. Their own chart showed clearly that the "problem" was that people had moved into their "upper class" income category, not down into their "lower class" definition. But the "middle class" was clearly "disappearing" so it was a national tragedy.Posted by Foobarista at November 4, 2005 11:33 PM
The Army's authorized strength [less activated Reserve and NG] for FY 04, ending 30 Sep 04 was around 480,000. For FY 05, Congress authorized the first manpower increase in over a decade with 20k additional slots. The Army ends FY 05 with 492,000 personnel.
Oh, big deal. They moved the goal posts. However, they have 10k more this year than they had last year. What shortfall?
I doubt the Army staff and leadership is interested in diverting manpower, facilities, and resources to the training base required to upramp 20k in one year anyway. A 10K increase seems reasonable to me. In the next 2 years as the Iraqis take over the vast bulk of the mission and troop numbers start to return to home base, look for the usual suspects of politicians and media to call for reductions in the expensive manpower of our services.Posted by Don at November 5, 2005 12:46 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(4) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)