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Citizen Soldiers or Warrior Caste: Who Will Serve in America's Future Military?

Bipartisan Policy Center
1225 Eye St NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
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The foundation of American military strength is the willingness of its men and women to volunteer for duty. But will there be enough interest in military service to sustain U.S. strength in the future? Recent trends are worrying: only a quarter of all 18 to 24-year olds are even eligible to serve; interest in serving or even knowledge of the military career is dropping among American youth; as much as 80 percent of new recruits come from a “warrior caste,” families with a prior history of service; and increasingly, military families do not recommend service to their children.

This raises the critical question: who will serve in tomorrow’s military? Citizen soldiers or a warrior caste?

BPC led a discussion of the future of the all-volunteer force, including presentations of new survey data from the Department of Defense and Blue Star Families, featuring new analysis from data scientists at Booz Allen Hamilton, and a discussion of options for bridging the civil-military divide through community engagement and defense personnel reform.


Heather Wilson
Secretary, United States Air Force

Amber Smith
Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Outreach

Dr. David Chu
President, Institute for Defense Analyses

Kathy Roth-Douquet
Chief Executive Officer, Blue Star Families

Paul Yacci
Senior Lead Data Scientist, Booz Allen Hamilton

Steve Bell
Senior Advisor, BPC

Blaise Misztal
Director of National Security, BPC

Moderated by:

Dan Lamothe
Pentagon Correspondent, The Washington Post


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