But who makes up America’s over 1.3 million active personnel and its over 800,000 reserves, and how is the composition of the military changing?
To answer these questions, we turned primarily to data from a 2012 Department of Defence report.
One of the notable trends is a rise in minority officers, though minority groups are still underrepresented among officers.
Since 1995, the Army, Marines, and Coast Guard have grown in active duty members, while the Air Force and Navy have shrunk.
Nearly half of all military personnel are associated with the Army, whether in Active Duty, Reserves, or National Guard.
Enlistment rates vary widely throughout the United States, with Florida and Maine being notably overrepresented.
The majority of active duty personnel are white at 70%, but white Americans are actually underrepresented in the military, as they represent 78% of the U.S. population.
Since 1995, there has been a rapid increase in the number of minorities serving as officers across all branches of the military.
Despite the increase in minority officers, the ratio of minority officers to minority enlisted is lower than the DoD's total ratio of officers to enlisted. Minorities are particularly underrepresented in the Navy, with a ratio of one officer for every 10.7 personnel.
The total ratio for Active Duty minority officers to minority enlisted personnel is 1 to 6.9, significantly lower than the DoD's total ratio of one officer to ever 4.8 personnel. Minorities are particularly underrepresented in the Navy, with the ratio of one minority officer to every 10.7 minority personnel.
Mirroring Active Duty, the race breakdown of the Reserves show that the force is predominantly White.
Since 1995, the percentage of minorities in the Army and Marine Corps fell, although it increased within the DoD as a whole.
Almost half of all those serving in Active Duty are younger than 25 and only 5.6% of those serving are 41 or older.
In the Reserves, almost one fifth of personnel are 41 or older and less than 40% of personnel are 25 or younger.
Almost the entirety of Active Duty enlisted personnel have at least a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. Almost a fifth of enlisted members have some sort of college degree.
Since 1995, there has been a slight trend towards enlisted Active Duty members having higher rates of a college education. In the same time period, there was an increase in officers having only a high school diploma.
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