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Military Faces Decline in Black Recruits
By: Claudia Cabrera
Special to the NNPA from the Amsterdam News
Originally posted 11/16/2005

NEW YORK (NNPA) – Keyon Brown, a 26-year-old college graduate of York College in Queens, was recently approached by an Army recruiter near his Flatbush home and politely rejected his enrollment offer.

“I have a career, and even if I didn't, I wouldn't enlist in the war right now with everything going on,” he said. “We can't even come up with an answer to why we are fighting, anyways.”

The war in Iraq has had a devastating effect on the army's recruitment of Blacks.
A 2005 Pew Research Poll shows that Blacks are twice as likely as Whites to oppose the war.

''We saw the most precipitous drop immediately after Sept. 11,'' Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, commander of Army recruiting, said at the Pentagon this year.
Since 2000, African-American enrollment in the army has declined by close to 40 percent.

Since the 1970s, the Army has relied on Blacks for a quarter of its soldiers, though African-Americans constituted less than 15 percent of the population.

The Army was one of the first U.S. institutions to integrate. Blacks looked at the Army as one of the only equal opportunity institutions in the country.

David Segal, head of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland, believes the Iraq war is a reason for low enrollment but said that the declining trend has been developing for more than a decade.

“The decline in Black enrollment has been increasing since 1990,” he said. “There is no denying that the Iraq war is a strong factor, but these young men are also hearing from friends, teachers, and parents that the Army is not a good place for a Black man to be.”

Another factor is that Blacks are less dependent on the Army with the educational opportunities that have opened up. In the last 25 years, the percentage of Blacks older than 25 with four years of college has more than doubled, according to the Digest of Education Statistics.

“The improving economy, more jobs, increasing college enrollment and the fear of getting killed on the battlefield have all contributed to the decline,” said Segal.

The drop in Black recruits has sent the Army searching in other directions for recruits. The Army has seen an increase in the Hispanic, White, and Asian communities. Enrollment from these communities has increased close to 5 percent since Sept. 11th.

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