In 1990, the United States Military had over 2 million Americans serving. The majority of those 2 million being caucasian males. Almost 30 years later, not only has the size changed, but the demographic has shifted as well. The most significant shifts have been noted in size, gender, diversity, and age.
While the Army has remained the largest branch of the military, the numbers across all departments have decreased drastically. Currently, there are over 1.3 million members in the military, with only 210,000 deployed. 36% of the members in the military belong to the Army, while 24% belong to the Navy, 23% to the Airforce, 14% to the Marine Corps, and 3% to the Coast Guard.
Although the majority of the current population of service members is male, females have made incredible strides in their presence in the military. In 2017, the Pew Research Center found that females make up 15% of active-duty members. Thirty years ago, women only made up 11% of the military.
As an entire nation, American diversity has grown impressively. A direct correlation exists between the variety of the country and the diversity in the military. In 1990, ethnic groups and minorities only made up 19% of the military. Three decades later, 43% of the military contains ethnic groups and minorities. Specifically, over the past few decades, Hispanics, in particular, have been the fastest-growing minority. Diversity in the military is predicted to grow steadily over the next several decades.
Over the past 30 years, the average age of military personnel has grown exponentially. After the military draft ended in 1973, the age of enlisted personnel and officers has gotten older. At the end of the draft, the average age of an officer was around 32, which jumped up to an average age of 35 in 2015. The average troop age in 1973 was 25, with an average age of 27 in 2015. The age gap has remained the same over the past several decades, despite the change in the average age.
As America continues to change and diversify, so will the different departments within American culture. It’s essential to look at past statistics and current numbers not only to learn but to help enrich the future as well.