Pentagon to examine recruiting, ROTC policies in attempt to reach more people
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon will review the way it recruits potential servicemembers and how it trains future officers at college campuses as the Defense Department seeks to attract better-qualified, more diverse troops, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Tuesday.
The military in recent years has faced a shrinking pool of Americans who are qualified to serve in the military, and stereotypes and lifestyle concerns have further deterred qualified people from considering military service, Carter said in a speech at the City College of New York in New York City. According to Army statistics, only 25 percent of American youth qualify to serve and among people capable, less than 13 percent have expressed interest in military service.
“Today, our military and our troops are popular and widely supported by the American people, and I very much appreciate that, because I remember a time when it was different,” Carter said. “But … many Americans have become less familiar with us.”
There are several reasons the general public has lost its connections to the military, he said. Today, only about 1 percent of the American population has served in the military, and people who do serve are likely to have a close family member who served before them. Additionally, 40 percent of people who join the military come from only six states. The majority of officers come from the northern United States, while the vast majority of enlisted servicemembers are from the south.