While African-Americans have traditionally made up a significant percentage
of the US Armed Forces, the numbers of Black enlistees is on the decline, reports
In fiscal 2001, which ended 19 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks,
nearly 23 percent of all new Army recruits were black – as in each of
the previous five years. So far in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30, only about
14 percent are. That's a decline of nearly 40 percent in the proportion of black
recruits – when the Army never needed them more.
And the war in Iraq seems to have a lot to do with the drop in numbers - not
just fear of dying in the war, but opposition to the war itself.
"A lot of black kids, they don't want to be in it," said
DeTorrian Rhone, 18, a 2005 graduate of Bryan Adams High School in East Dallas.
He talked to Army recruiters but decided to go to Texas Southern University
"Most of the kids say they don't want to fight for a country that's
pickin' on other countries," he said. "I don't want to fight because
this [Iraq] war was stupid, it wasted money. Army people are getting killed
for nothing, and we should have stayed in our own business."
But let's not get carried away - African-Americans are still overrepresented
in the Army.
Ever since the Army became an all-volunteer force in the 1970s, it
has relied on blacks for roughly a quarter of its soldiers, though they constituted
less than 15 percent of the population. And for historical and economic reasons,
they have answered the call.
And even with the recruiting decline, about 25 percent of Army enlisted
personnel are black, the Army reports.