NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Success of Our All-Volunteer Military

January 8, 2003

Back when abolition of the draft was being debated, opponents used the argument that black servicemen would be put disproportionately in harm's way. But research by Aline Quester of the Center for Naval Analysis and Curtis Gilroy of the Defense Department looked at the question in the context of the Vietnam War and subsequent conflicts.

  • They found black fatalities were between 12 percent and 13 percent of all Americans killed there -- a figure proportionate to the size of their civilian population and actually lower than their percentage of the Army at that time.
  • In the six military operations since then, blacks have comprised 15 percent of combat fatalities, while making up 15 percent of the population -- which is still considerably below the percentage of blacks in the active duty army, which is 19 percent.
  • According to the latest figures, just 12.6 percent of blacks in the military are in positions which are likely to engage the enemy physically -- occupations such as infantry, gun crews and seamanship specialists -- compared to 18.4 percent of whites.
  • Some 26.4 percent of blacks -- against only 11.9 percent of whites -- serve as functional supporters and administrators.

Which means those insisting that blacks are likely to bear the brunt of combat casualties have it exactly backwards.

Source: Editorial, "Draft Dodge," Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB1041807838591469904-search,00.html


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