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The Changing Face of U.S. Military Service

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Paula Acevedo
September 29, 2017

The U.S. military is experiencing the same demographic changes our nation and our world are experiencing at-large. By 2055, the U.S. will have no single racial or ethnic majority, as the population shifts to being more foreign-born.


Our active-duty military has shifted from being 25 percent (in 1990) to 40 percent (in 2015) non-white. This increase to 40 percent is representative of the 44 percent of all Americans ages 18-44 that were non-white in 2015.


The military remains over 3.5 million strong, but its number of active-duty military is decreasing, in addition to the share of Americans enlisted, with a 0.1percent decrease from 2009 to 2015. Of the 3.5 million members, 1.3 million are active-duty with 68.7 percent being white, 17.3 percent are black, 4.2 percent are Asian, 4.2 percent are unknown or other, 3.2percent are multi-racial and 1.3 percent are American Indian or Alaska Native.

Women have also made strides in the military, by increasing their share of DOD active-duty military personnel, active-duty officers, and enlisted personnel. Women now make up 19 percent of the Air Force, 18 percent of the Navy, 14 percent of the Army, and 8 percent of the Marines.

As our world and country changes so will our military to reflecting our society and the ever-changing world.

Author: Paula Acevedo is a graduate of American University’s School of Public Affairs with a Master’s in Public Administration and focus in Public Policy Analysis. She holds a BBA in Marketing and Management, with a minor in Business Law from Florida Atlantic University. Paula is currently a Research Associate at Council for a Strong America. She can be reached at [email protected].

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