ATTITUDES, APTITUDES, AND ASPIRATIONS OF AMERICAN YOUTH
Implications for Military Recruitment
Paul Sackett and Anne Mavor, Editors
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
The study was supported by Contract No. M67004-00-C-0030 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Marine Corps. The views, opinions and/or findings contained in this report (paper) are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official OASD position, policy or decision unless so designated by other official documentation.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
National Research Council. Committee on the Youth Population and Military Recruitment.
Attitudes, aptitudes, and aspirations of American youth : implications for military recruiting / Committee on the Youth Population and Military Recruitment ; Paul Sackett and Anne Mavor, editors
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-309-08531-4 (hardcover)
1. United States—Armed Forces—Recruiting, enlistment, etc. 2. Manpower—United States. 3. Youth—United States. I. Sackett, Paul. II. Mavor, Anne, 1952– III. Title.
UB323 .N38 203
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Suggested citation: National Research Council (2003) Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment. Committee on the Youth Population and Military Recruitment. Paul Sackett and Anne Mavor, editors. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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COMMITTEE ON THE YOUTH POPULATION AND MILITARY RECRUITMENT
PAUL R. SACKETT (Chair),
Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
DAVID J. ARMOR,
School of Public Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
JERALD G. BACHMAN,
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JOHN SIBLEY BUTLER,
Department of Sociology and Department of Management, University of Texas at Austin
Greenlee School of Journalism, Iowa State University, Ames
Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
CAROLYN SUE HOFSTRAND,
Taylor High School, Volusia County, FL
PAUL F. HOGAN,
Lewin-VHI Inc., Fairfax, VA
CAROLYN MADDY-BERNSTEIN, Education Consultant,
Oro Valley, AZ
ROBERT D. MARE,
Department of Sociology, University of California at Los Angeles
JEYLAN T. MORTIMER,
Life Course Center, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
CAROL A. MUTTER, LTG, retired,
U.S. Marine Corps
LUTHER B. OTTO, emeritus,
Department of Sociology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
WILLIAM J. STRICKLAND,
HumRRO, Alexandria, VA
NANCY T. TIPPINS,
Personnel Research Associates, Dallas, TX
ANNE S. MAVOR, Study Director
MARILYN DABADY, Senior Research Associate
WENDY E. KEENAN, Senior Project Assistant
CECILIA ROSSITER (until January 2002), Senior Project Assistant
SUSAN R. McCUTCHEN (until January 2001), Senior Project Assistant
BOARD ON BEHAVIORAL, COGNITIVE, AND SENSORY SCIENCES
ANNE PETERSEN (Chair),
W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, MI
LINDA MARIE BURTON,
Center for Human Development and Family Research, The Pennsylvania State University
STEPHEN J. CECI,
Department of Human Development, Cornell University
EUGENE K. EMORY,
Department of Psychology, Emory University
Center for Cognitive Science, Rutgers University
ANTHONY W. JACKSON,
The Galef Institute, Los Angeles
Center for Neural Science, New York University
MARCIA C. LINN,
Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley
ELISSA L. NEWPORT,
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester
CHARLES R. PLOTT,
Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology
MICHAEL L. RUTTER,
Institute of Psychiatry, University of London
Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan
JAMES W. STIGLER,
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
JOHN A. SWETS,
BBN Technologies, emeritus, Tequesta, FL
RICHARD F. THOMPSON,
Neurosciences Program, University of Southern California
WILLIAM A. YOST,
Office of Research and the Graduate School, Loyola University Chicago
CHRISTINE R. HARTEL, Director
This report is the work of the Committee on theYouth Population and Military Recruitment. The committee was established by the National Research Council (NRC) in 1999 in response to a request from the Department of Defense. The impetus for the study was the recruiting problems encountered by the Services in the late 1990s. The central question is how to attract qualified youth to serve their country and, if necessary, be willing to put themselves in harm’s way. Although military missions have diversified since the end of the cold war, the primary function of the Services remains the provision of the nation’s warriors and protectors.
The charge to the committee was to provide information about the demographic characteristics, skill levels, attitudes, and values of the youth population, to examine options available to youth following high school graduation, and to recommend various recruiting and advertising strategies and incentive programs based on sound scientific data with the goal of increasing propensity and facilitating enlistment. The focus was limited to policy options that could be implemented within the current institutional structure of the military services. This report is intended not only for defense policy makers and recruiting personnel but also for the research community.
Committee members represent expertise in demography, military manpower, military sociology, psychology, adolescent development, economics, advertising and communication, and private-sector management. In developing our conclusions and recommendations we synthesized data
and research from a variety of sources. First, we reviewed documents from the Department of Defense specifying current and projected defense goals, strategies, and manpower requirements as well as historical trends in force size, structure and quality, and turnover. This review provided a baseline description of current and projected recruiting demand: that is, will the United States need a larger force in the future and will a different level of personnel quality or skill mix be required?
Second, the committee analyzed data from large government databases on demography (the Current Population Survey, National Youth Longitudinal Survey), education (National Center for Education Statistics), and the quality characteristics of military applicants and enlistees (Defense Manpower Data Center). In some cases the existing data compilations and interpretations were used, and in other cases data were reanalyzed to answer the specific questions posed in this report. Projections based on demographic trends and trends in basic skill levels and moral characteristics of the youth population were used to determine the adequacy of the supply of qualified youth for military service. Data on civilian work and education options were used to assess the degree to which these opportunities compete with military service for qualified youth.
Third, the committee examined large-scale national surveys on youth attitudes and values (Monitoring the Future from the University of Michigan, the Youth Attitude Tracking Survey from the Defense Manpower Data Center, and the Sloan Study from the National Opinion Research Center) as well as locally based cross-sectional studies. These data were used to describe trends, over the last 26 years, in youth attitudes toward citizenship, work, education, and military services. In support of these trends, we reviewed the professional literature on socialization, attitude formation, and youth development. This literature also served to assess the degree of influence that parents, counselors, and peers have on youth attitudes, values, and career choices.
Fourth, the committee reviewed and analyzed current military advertising and recruiting in light of current trends in youth propensity to enlist in the Service. These analyses were informed by theory and research on the relationship between intentions and behavior, by principles of advertising, and by research relevant to the selection, training, and motivation of productive recruiters.
Several individuals representing recruiting activities in the Services provided important context for the committee’s work. First, we would like to thank Col. Greg Parlier, Lt. Col. Mark Young, and the staff of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for hosting a site visit for a subgroup of the committee and later presenting material to the full committee. Second, we would like to thank the members of the
recruiting panel who discussed current practices and issues. They are Col. G. K. Cunningham, U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Command; Ed Kearl, U.S. Navy Recruiting Command; Kevin Lyman, U.S. Army Recruiting Inspection Branch; and Lt. Col. Martin Pullum, U.S. Air Force Recruiting Command.
Many individuals provided the committee with useful information through presentations and written materials. We would like to particularly thank Monica Gribben, HumRRO, and Barbara Snyder, University of Chicago, for preparing papers and presentations. We also extend our gratitude to Beth Asch, James Dertouzos, Susan Everingham, and Bruce Orvis of the RAND Corporation; Robert Clark and Lt. Col. Jeff Perry, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Force Management Policy; Karen Horton, GTE Service Corporation; James Hoskins, Wirthlin Worldwide; Deirdre Knapp, HumRRO; Anita Lancaster and Jerome Lehnus of the Defense Manpower Data Center; Reed Larsen, University of Illinois; Janet Stanton, Bates USA; David Treteler, National War College; John Warner, Clemson University; and James Youniss, Catholic University.
To our sponsor, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy, we are most grateful for their interest in the topic of this report and for their many useful contributions to the committee’s work. We are particularly indebted to W.S. Sellman for his insight, his encouragement, and his dedication to science and to Jane Arabian for her guidance and support. Finally we wish to extend a special thanks to Vice Admiral Patricia Tracey for her vision and to Lt. General John Van Alstyne for his continuing interest.
In the course of preparing this report, each member of the committee took an active role in drafting chapters, leading discussions, and reading and commenting on successive drafts. We are deeply indebted to all for their broad scholarship, their critical examination of the evidence, and their cooperative spirit.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: John P. Campbell, University of Minnesota; William C. Howell, Arizona State University; Gerald B. Kauvar, The George Washington University; Catherine Milton, Friends of the Children, New York, NY; Kevin R. Murphy, Pennsylvania State University;
Michael Pergamit, National Opinion Research Center, Washington, DC; Kim B. Rotzoll, University of Illinois; David R. Segal, University of Maryland; and Sheila E. Widnall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Marshall S. Smith, of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Alexander H. Flax, consultant, Potomac, MD. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Staff of the NRC made important contributions to our work in many ways. We extend particular thanks to Marilyn Dabady for her outstanding efforts as a senior research associate. We are also grateful to Wendy Keenan and Susan McCutchen, the committee’s senior project assistants, who were indispensable in organizing meetings, arranging travel, compiling agenda materials, and in managing the preparation of this report. Finally we wish to thank Alexandra Wigdor for initiating the project and Chris McShane for her thoughtful editing of this report.
Paul Sackett, Chair
Anne Mavor, Study Director
Committee on the Youth Population and Military Recruitment