"It's time to question the near-universal assumption that the ideal military recruit is young and male."

Brains and Maturity on the Front Line


Mon, Oct 1st, 2012 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

In Foreign Policy's National Security section, Rosa Brooks notes that "military demographics change over time" and that while at one point "having an army full of young men made lots of sense," with the way modern warfare is shaping up to be, they may be the "least well-suited demographic groups." So why, she asks, "do we still focus on recruiting 18-year-olds?"

No one knows precisely what warfare will look like in the decades to come, but I'm pretty sure I know what it won't look like. It won't look like tanks sweeping across the plains of Eastern Europe. It won't look like Gettysburg, and it won't look like Homeric conflict outside the walls of Troy.

In other words, it won't be the kind of conflict that relies on mass, or favors the brawny over the brainy. It won't be the kind of conflict at which young males have traditionally excelled.

On the contrary. The skills the military is most likely to need in the future are precisely the skills that American young people in general -- and young males in particular -- are most likely to lack. The U.S. military will need people with technical experience and scientific know-how. It will also need people with foreign language and regional expertise and an anthropological cast of mind -- people who can operate comfortably and effectively surrounded by foreigners. And in the 24-7 media environment -- the era of the strategic corporal -- the military will, above all, need people with maturity and good judgment.



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