STILL Not Showing Up: Black Military Enlistment Continues Drop

The Associated Press report on newly released statistics showing Black enlistment in all branches of the armed forces has dropped 36% since 2001, mirroring a 2005 report from the Army showing a drop in Black enlistment dropping from 23 percent of all enlistees in 2001 to 14 percent by 2005. The AP reports:

According to Pentagon data, there were nearly 51,500 new black recruits for active duty and reserves in 2001. That number fell to less than 32,000 in 2006, a 38 percent decline.

When only active duty troops are counted, the number of black recruits went from more than 31,000 in 2002 to about 23,600 in 2006, almost one-quarter fewer.

The decline is particularly stark for the Army. Blacks represented about 23 percent of the active Army’s enlisted recruits in 2000, but 12.4 percent in 2006.

And like the 2005 report, black youth cite the unjust war in Iraq/Afghanistan and the opinions of their elders as the main reasons for their lack of enthusiasm. In the AP story, one recruiter, Sgt. Terry Wright noted

“I go to high schools every day, and for the most part it strikes me how many of them are serious about going to college,” said Wright, 32.

It “strikes” him as what?

The story also noted increases in enlistment by other racial groups:

The decline in black recruits overall has been offset partly by an increase in Hispanic recruits and those who classify themselves as other races or nationalities.

This category could include people who consider themselves Portuguese, or of other European descent that are not covered by the main categories of white, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan, black or Hispanic.

The active duty services largely have met recruiting targets in the past two years, while the Army, Army National Guard and Air National Guard fell short of their goals last month.

If black youth are not showing up for enlistment in the armed forces, how come they have not significantly joined the Anti-war Movement? I wrote about this issue last year in an acrticle called Not Showing Up: Blacks, Military Recruitment, and the Anti-War Movement, originally for the Nonviolent Activist, and was later reprinted on Black Commentator.com.

(The photo above is of Toccara R.Green, age 23, killed in 2005 when several roadside bombs in Iraq exploded near her unit.)

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