Murphy's Law: January 27, 2003

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A recent proposal to bring back the draft also asserted that minorities, particularly blacks, were disproportionately represented in combat units and had taken a disproportionate share of the combat casualties during, and since, the Vietnam war. Both assertions are myths that won't go away, or are just too convenient to avoid for politicians who know better. During the Vietnam war, blacks suffered combat losses in proportion to their share of the population. But early in the war they were over-represented, and under-represented later in the war. So you can see where that myth came from. At the end of the Vietnam war, the draft was ended. The volunteer army attracted a larger proportion of blacks (20 percent of the troops from only 12 percent of the population), but blacks were still underrepresented in combat units. This is largely because black recruits are more likely to seek a career in the military and more enthusiastic about obtaining job skills useful outside the army. Throughout the armed forces, blacks are underrepresented in combat jobs. For example; Only 10.6 percent of the Army's 45,586 enlisted combat infantryman are black. Of the Air Force's 12,000 pilots, only two percent are black. In the Navy, 2.5 percent of pilots are black. It gets worse in elite combat units. Only about five percent of U.S. Army Special Forces are black, and fewer than one percent of Navy SEALs. The pilot shortfalls are attributed to a shortage of college educated blacks in general, and the availability of less dangerous and better paying jobs. Somewhat the same deal with elite combat units, which are very selective in terms of intelligence and physical conditioning. A lot of suitable black candidates for elite combat units prefer better deals (in terms of living conditions and pay) in non-combat career areas. Bringing back the draft won't change any of this. 

 


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