Attrition: Urban Horrors


March 2, 2007: In the United States, recruiters have noted a steady decline in the proportion (to their population) of recruits coming from urban areas. This is largely because so many potential recruits have to be turned down because of the poor education they have received in urban schools. While only 21 percent of Americans live in rural areas, 44 percent of the qualified recruits come from these areas. What's strange about all this is that the rural areas spend much less, per pupil, on education, but get much better results. Part of this can be attributed to differences in cost of living, but a lot of it has to do with simply getting more done with less. Per capita, young people in urban areas are 22 percent more likely to join the army, than those of the same age in urban areas.

The rural recruits are also a lot easier to train, and generally make better soldiers. The urban recruits often have a bad attitude, as well as a difficult time getting along with others, and following instructions. The urban schools deserve some of the blame for this, as rural schools tend to be far more orderly, and put more emphasis on civil responsibility. Many of the urban recruits are aware of these problems, and joined the service to learn useful (for getting a job) social skills. Those skills are more often found among rural recruits because out in the boondocks, people are more involved with local government, and more involved in general. This has been noted in urban neighborhoods, and for decades, many urban parents have sought to send their kids to live with kinfolk in the country, to get the child away from the bad influences of urban life.

For different reasons, the army is getting more of its officers from rural areas. About two thirds of officers come from ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs at colleges. Because of growing anti-military attitudes in many urban colleges, ROTC programs are disappearing from colleges in large cities. New York City colleges produce less than ten percent as many ROTC officers today than they did fifty years ago. The big drop came during the Vietnam war period, when anti-war fervor at urban colleges led to ROTC programs being dropped. Most of these were never restored. Thus, not only are a disproportionate number of troops coming from rural areas, but so are a disproportionate number of the officers, even though some of the best colleges are found in the cities.

Having a disproportionate number of troops and officers from the countryside is an ancient pattern. In the past, there were different reasons for this, but the end result was the same.


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