The US Army, along with the rest of the military, has been a focus point in the 2016 Presidential election cycle. Despite reductions and cutbacks, there is no question that the US Military is both the most powerful and the most expensive military in the world.
The US Army had the most active duty members of the US military in 2013, with 528,070 of the total 1.3 million in this status.
Compared to 1995 numbers, the US military is about 9% smaller in total active duty members. Yet despite this fact, the US Army has actually seen a 4.6% increase in active duty members, second only to the Marines who have seen a 12.2% increase.
A Picture of Who Serves in the US Army
- The US Army has 1 officer for every 4.3 individuals who have an enlisted rank.
- The number of African-American youth who are interested in serving in the US Army has fallen from 26% in 1985 to just 10% in 2009. In 2013, that figure rose back to 17%.
- About half of minority demographic soldiers in the US Army are chosen for service support jobs, such as cooks and maintenance workers, where advancement opportunities are minimal.
- 22% of African-American soldiers in the US Army hold combat arms positions.
- About 84% of those who serve in the military do so through enlistment.
- Florida and Maine are over-represented when it comes to US Army recruitment. The lowest level of under-representation comes from North Dakota and Utah.
- The percentage of women serving in the US Army has only grown by 0.6% in the last 15 years.
- 70% of the US military is White/Caucasian, which means this group is actually under-represented in racial demographics.
- Just 4.6% of the US Army is of a minority group other than African-American/Black, which is an under-representation of this demographic compared to the general population.
- Minority data is somewhat skewed, however, as Hispanics are not considered a minority group by the US Military.
- New recruits for the US Army are over-represented from neighborhoods with a median income above $40,000 and under-represented from neighborhoods with a median income less than $40k.
The US Army is right on the Department of Defense averages when it comes to gender and racial diversity within its ranks. 16.2% of the Army’s officers are women, which is just 0.1% higher than the overall DoD average. Yet the Army has also seen an overall decrease in the representation of minorities within its ranks even as the DoD has seen increases in racial diversity. Some might attribute this to better private sector options for income in the US, but it can also be a reflection of the nearly constant state of war the US has been in since 2001.
This is What Active Duty Means in the US Army
- 49% of the soldiers who are currently assigned as active duty are 25 years old or younger.
- 45% of active duty personnel are between the ages of 26-40.
- Just 5% of active duty personnel are above the age of 41.
- In the US Army Reserves, the age differences are less pronounced. Although 40% are still 25 or younger, about 20% are above the age of 41.
- 99.7% of soldiers who are assigned to active duty have at least a high school diploma or GED as their education.
- 11% of those on enlisted active duty have a 4 year degree. 7.3% of active duty members have an advanced degree.
- Over 80% of officers serving in the US Army have at least a 4 year college degree. About half of them have an advanced degree.
- About half of all active duty personnel are married in the US Military. The Army has the highest rate of marriage at just under 60%.
- 43% of those serving have children.
In many ways, the picture of the typical soldier in the US Army is the picture of the typical American who is chasing their dreams as a civilian. These soldiers are getting married, establishing families, and looking for ways to increase their rank. As these opportunities expand to women and minorities, these trends will invite more enlistments and officer candidates. For the US Army specifically, opening up these opportunities to Hispanics and other minority groups will only help to diversify the fighting force.
How The US Army Has Changed Since 1973
- The number of women serving in the US Army has increased by 7x since conscription ended, going from 2% to 14%.
- The number of women being commissioned as officers has increased by 4x.
- Nearly one-third (31%) of active-duty women are black compared with only 16% of men.
- Military women are less likely than their male counterparts to be married (46% vs. 58%), but those women who do marry are much more likely than men to wed someone who is also in the active-duty military (48% vs. 7%).
- 97% of women who have served in the US Army state that they are proud of the time they spent in the military.
Women have made many gains since the end of conscription in 1973 when the US Army became a strictly voluntary force. In some ways, women may still be under-represented in the military, but the gains have been slow and steady. Should that trend continue, the US Army could be one of the best opportunities for women to begin reducing the wage gaps they’ve been facing for so long.
Occupation Specialty Demographics in the US Army
- The US Army has the largest number of combat specialty personnel with 109,625.
- With more than 16,000 troops dedicated to HR development, the US Army has more serving in this specialty than all other branches of the military combined.
- Only 6,100 troops are assigned to administrative positions in the US Army.
- The US Army has 30,000 personnel serving in a health care position.
- With 6,600 media officers or public information officers, only the Air Force has more personnel serving in this specialty.
- For active duty specialties, the US Army has 2,000 more troops serving in a engineering, science, or technical position than in a combat specialty position.
- 2,900 active duty personnel are serving in an human resources position for the US Army.
- There are an equal number of active duty officers serving in transportation as there are serving in executive, managerial, or administrative positions.
As the US Army approached the challenges of an ever-evolving world, the opportunities that are offered are going to change as well. New officers have the chance to make a salary of over $50k in their first year after graduation. An E-2 in the US Army may have a salary of just $20k, but there are also allowances for housing, clothing, food, and other costs of living, along with tax-free shopping opportunities and other advantages, that can make joining up worthwhile.