Posted by Lex, on August 26, 2010
Writing in the WSJ, Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller point out that today’s volunteer forces do not purely reflect the country’s demography:
Nearly half of all Army recruits come from military families. Southerners disproportionately populate all the branches, while the middle-class suburbs surrounding the nation’s largest cities—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia—produce relatively few service members despite having a large percentage of the nation’s youth population.
The homogeneity of today’s military is partly a product of self-selection, as the services seek out the most eager volunteers. But it is also a product of green-eyeshade budgeting and policy decisions by the armed services and government.
The all-volunteer force has served the nation exceedingly well for more than 35 years, and there is little constituency for bringing back the draft. But we should seriously consider the long-term implications that the current disparities in military service have for our civil-military relationship…
ROTC today produces more graduates than the service academies, but there are good reasons to believe that it isn’t fulfilling its original purpose. Much ink has been spilled over the fraught relations between the military and the Ivy League. But while the good military vs. the bad Ivies makes for good political theater, it isn’t the whole story. While ROTC has been banned from many Ivy League campuses since the Vietnam War, the military also has drawn down its ROTC programs in the Northeast and in urban areas. ROTC has become increasingly Southern and rural.
In Virginia, for example, there are 7.8 million residents and 11 Army ROTC programs. New York City, home to over eight million people and America’s largest university student population, has two Army ROTC programs. The entire Chicago metro area, with its 10 million residents, is covered by a single Army ROTC program, as is Detroit. Alabama, population 4.7 million, has 10.
Bug or feature?