Thursday, July 06, 2006

Youth Kills?

I was looking through a simple statistical analysis of the first 2000 soldiers killed. You can also find a database of those killed as individuals.

There are hints of minor things like overrepresentation of negros in the military and the a blip of military in Iraq dying of drowning but the 2 things that really struck me were;

1) The overrepresentation of males dying in Iraq. This might be due to more females being in non combat roles perhaps?

2) Being young really kills you in Iraq. The youngest age grp (which is also the smallest age group in the military) and to a lesser degree the second youngest dominate deaths. Why? The inexperience? The risk taking?


John of Argghhh! said...

1. Youth kills because they are in the most junior postions, which are concentrated in line units, not in headquarters, which have much higher overall grade structures. Their exposure is greater. T'was ever thus.

2. The left usually whines (though they haven't lately because of sites like keeping this data out in the open) about how the combat burden falls disproportionately on the black population (BTW, in the US it's bad form to use the term "negro" unless you are one, a legacy of it's usage here, 'black' and 'african-american' being preferred usages) - which it clearly does not in terms of casualties. The over-representation of minorities in the services is generally seen as being indicative of a friendlier environment with a meritocratic basis for advancement. They used to be slightly under-represented in combat branches, concentrating on the Service Support side - which makes sense for people wishing to improve their overall socioeconomic standing and developing skills for outside employment.

As for females, yes, not being in the Infantry and Armor keeps their casualties down - but in this kind of war, where the LOCs (lines of communication) are where a lot of the fighting occurs, they are at greater risk than they generally have been in previous conflicts. Plus, their greater overall numbers make them more likely to find themselves in danger.

But the fact that this is a convoy war, and an MP war has bumped their risks up considerably.

Trias said...

Here it's more PC to say 'Aborigine' than 'black'.

Yes i think that covers it. It's seen as a means of escaping poverty. Even so the overrepresentation is only modest

dreamkatcha said...

I think it's a bit optimistic to say that minorities are over-represented in the services because the environment is now 'friendlier'.

Statistics show ( that blacks for example fair worse than whites at school and generally occupy a lower socio-economic status. To someone with limited opportunities for well paid employment, the army must look like a safe bet.

John of Argghhh! said...

Dreamkatcha - I don't think your point argues against my point in any significant way.

Are you implying the services aren't a more friendly environment?

Or, worse - that the dumb uneducated blacks just go there because they can't do any better and it's an easy skate?

My point is exactly what you said - the services, because they are a meritocratic environment (and we'll pretty much *make* you get that GED and facilitate college) constitutes a much friendlier route of social mobility than trying to compete after having been woefully unprepared by the local system.

Or did I miss something?

dreamkatcha said...

I'm implying that the army is anything but a friendly environment in which to make a living. I couldn't say if it's actually got any worse.

The army trains people by way of bullying and soul-destroying humiliation. You could argue this is entirely necessary to create hardened warriors - and I'd probably agree - but this is really beside the point. It's a hostile environment for white people, let alone minorities who have the added burden of contending with institutional racism. Women are minorities in this setting too, and are frequently subject to masogynistic verbal and sexual abuse. The bravest ones take their tormenters to court and face the lottery of having the case thrown out on the basis that they are too weak to cope with 'normal', harmless banter and rough-housing.

I wasn't casting aspersions on black people, just stating the facts - that in general and for whatever reasons they do not leave school on an equal footing with white people and often are disadvantaged from the outset in economic terms too.

The army is by no means a cushy option (in fact I'd say it must be hell emotionally and physically), though to someone with no qualifications or specialist practical skills it must seem like the *only* option. I can't think of any other jobs you can enter with no education, earn a reasonable wage and work your way up at the expense of your employer.

Gollum said...

Careful Katcha. John's a retired field officer who's spent more than a few years figuring out how to train people in the US Army.
That's not to say that he's 100% correct, but his opinion is a bit more than salutory on this matter. So don't just dismiss him out of hand, okay?

John, it's shifted away from support services? I hadn't heard that.

"It's seen as a means of escaping poverty."
John's also got a point about the social mobility. One of our blog friends(SangerM) comes from a rather low socioeconomic group, but is smart as a whip. Guy's working on his second masters degree right now at a top tier university(Tufts) with both paid predominitly by the military.

But, compare that with me, from the same socio-economic strata as Sanger. I'm working on a Ph.D., but have wracked up $10kUS in school debt. You have to understand the US college system before you can blaze away with an assertion like that. Financial aid is VERY easy to come by. VERY.
Some states, like CA, make it so easy to get a college education you have to actively not want one not to go. The Federal Gov't has extensive financial aid services for states with less extensive systems than CA. There's education available 'to escape poverty' if one really wants it.

The CA model is special. It has a three tiered college system which virtually garauntees anyone willing to work moderately hard will get a college level education . YOu do two years at a junior college(tier one where doing 1st year and 2nd year studies earns you entrance into a real university). Then you either go to the CSU schools, the UC schools, or the private schools like USC or Stanford(if you've scored high enough). If you're trully poor they wave tuition entirely at the CC level and give you money to buy books, access to state paid child care, first dibs at on campus work, and healthcare(clinic level). And on top of that you can get federal money to boot.

Yet the immense African American populations in Los Angeles and Oakland don't go to college. Go figure.

I went the CC route from a welfare family. So did my older brother and one of my older sisters. I carry a pretty big student loan debt right now, but it's a fixed low rate loan. College is so doable it just doesn't make sense.

And then there's the AmeriCorps started by Bill Clinton and his Welfare Reform(which included provisions for job training paid by the fed gov't)of the late 1990s, targeted scholarships, affirmative action in hiring, Regional Occupations programs that offer vocational training at huge discounts(where you can learn to do things like semi driving, CAD, television production, etc)

Sorry, but the 'escape poverty by joining the military' is a stone cold cannard.

dreamkatcha said...

Well you've convinced me that opportunities for bettering yourself are available to those who know what they want to do and are aware of all the funding options on the table.

As I see it, the reason fewer disadvantaged people take this route compared with entering the military comes down to the disparity in recruitment techniques.

Military PR reps pro-actively and agressively tour schools, shopping centres and so on to sway young people who are uncertain of what their future entails. They have specific targets to meet and so will tell them whatever they want to hear in order to get their signature. Want to become president? No problem, we can help you do it!

Going it alone - albeit with government funding - requires a lot more determination and effort on the part of the student. No-one from Multi-Million-Dollar Corporation X is going to hold your hand and groom you to become the next CEO. Why would they bother when they can simply cream off the people who have already completed their education under their own steam? Those with privileged backgrounds and connections are always going to win the race.

Here in the UK it's child's play to get a student loan too, but - rightly so - not everyone sees this as a free pass into well paid employment. You can go to uni, spend a fortune geting a degree and still not be able to find a job afterwards. Many people avoid higher education altogether so they aren't saddled with huge debts if they find themselves in this situation.

Lots of graduates are in this predicament precisely because there has been a state-funded push to get more people into higher education. There are only so many graduate jobs to go round no matter how well educated you happen to be.

The same isn't true of the military, especially given our simultaneous occupation of so many far flung corners of the globe. Soldiers are dying faster than they can be recruited so it's no wonder the military will bend over backwards to welcome kids into the fold.

John of Argghhh! said...

Dreamkatcha -

"The army trains people by way of bullying and soul-destroying humiliation."

Your understanding of military training reads as an anti-military caricature - by chance have you been there, done that?

My Army, btw - not the Brit.

The women's issue is more complex, certainly, though again, not quite as one-sided as you portray it - this from one who has commanded units with women in them, as well as having been commanded by women.

Again, as for recruitment techniques, you appear to have sole-sourced Indymedia as your view into recruiting.

Your entire view of the services (and I admit, I can't talk intelligbly about Brit practices at that level, having only served on ops with them) but you've got a very shallow and biased view of the processes as they occur in the US.

I'm sure you can cherry pick many instances to support your contention - and you can find numerous wash-outs who will rail against how hard and harsh training is, but you also have to balance that against re-enlistment rates - which is the real vote.

Trias said...

If the escape from poverty is so very easy more people would escape it. Perhaps the money is available but it doesn't change the results.

In Australia you can get access to a degree in poverty. But you get a very fat debt for it and frankly a degree is not always an escape from poverty. Not only that there’s terrible cover for other costs. Things like eating books etc.

Military 'boot camp' being harsh isn't just "an anti-military caricature" it's ingrained in general societal belief through movies, books even pr0n. Hell, there are corporates taking emulated boot camps in corporate 'bonding' exercises.

Dreamkatcha, John has been in the military he is going to know something about it.

My father gave me this impression of boot camp. Keep in mind he’s Aussie not Brit or US and it was some time ago. It’s physically gruelling with many fitness goals. This includes a lot of running around marching and obstacle courses. It attempts to bond the soldiers to work together. It is friendly amongst peers. There is quite a bit of broken military law. There are frequent early wakings. There are efforts to make things unpredictable. There is heavy regulation and uniformity ie sameness. There are very strict rules on keeping the quarters and equipment. So strict many soldiers did not sleep on the bed because it was hard to make it to standard. Yelling and screaming is common. Domination of higher rank and submission of lower rank are emphasized. Luxuries are minimised. Competition is maximised.

John of Argghhh! said...

All of what you said happens, in some form or another - and has a purpose - to ingrain habit, which frees up the mind for creativity when needed by routinizing militarily routine activities.

It is intended to inculcate group values - but, especially in Anglosphere armies of the age, it exploits to its advantage the strengths of the individual.

Except in aberrant forms, it is *not* training...

" people by way of bullying and soul-destroying humiliation."

The only souls destroyed in this process are those which were brittle to begin with.

Not all are cut from cloth amenable to the soldiering trade.

Gollum said...

Warning, brevity is for the weak.(this is loooooooong. I'm killing Daleks again.)
"Well you've convinced me that opportunities for bettering yourself are available to those who know what they want to do and are aware of all the funding options on the table.

As I see it, the reason fewer disadvantaged people take this route compared with entering the military comes down to the disparity in recruitment techniques.

Okay, then let's shine some light into some other dark corners then. In the US what does college and corporate recruiting look like?
Let me start with college, since it's something I've taken part in.

Quite honestly, and this predates 9/11, you're more likely to run into someone pushing college than the military. When I was at the JC 3 times a month we did a traveling 'chemistry magic show' where we went to local schools(elementary up thru HS) to do tricks and pass out literature. 3x a month. 2 times a year the college would have 'junior day' where we would accept something like the entire 3rd year class from about 15 different HS and entertain them, 'wine and dine' them, and push college some more. You can check up on this with Dr. Ted Yamada at Santa Ana College( You can also use that link to get to the outreach dept at the junior college.
That's just the junior college level. Where the 'HS drop outs and down testers' go after HS(not quite true, those of us who just don't have the money go there too.).
What do the big universities do?
That's where I did my undergrad. It's pretty extensive. That's just what the U does, not each individual dept. Again, the chem, math, and phys dept's go out into the hinterlands(I've gone out to Eureka!) to do demos for HS and lower kids to get them to want to go to UCD and be an Aggie.
This is the outreach program of where I'm at now:
and though I don't do the chem one anymore(really more for up and coming undergraduates than grad students).

You can research any major US university you want. You'll find each and every one having a major department dedicated to outreach/recruitment of minorities(of either economic, racial, or gender).
So, to say that the universities are not aggressive in trying to woo students is blatantly false. They're very pro-active in recruitment.

Corps. Well, corps don't typically go to HS. HS kids aren't corporate material. There's no 'mustanging' it, not really. If you're just a gifted computer wonk that's a different story.
But many still have summer internships to get kids interested in boring things like accounting and actuary.

But internships and recruiting at the university level? It's mega. Every term at either UCD or here at Purdue there's a job faire. JobTrak at every public university(I forget how that translates in England, but in the US that really means public) university. Job placement at all public universities. here's the one from Rutgers university:
Here's what Silicon Valley does in outreach to Californian universities:
Here's what UCD does:

Then there is the informal recruiting. Booths and tables on the quads/memorial unions/whatever your school calls the main hangout and eatery on campus. This is where NGO's slay everyone. I kid you not. At UCD I'd see 15 NGO tables, 2-3 corporations, and a joint table by the Army and Marines. Once in a while the Navy and Air Force would show up.
I go straight to and from my car now so I don't know what the scene is like here at Purdue. The Wife says it's about the same.

So to say that there major efforts made to place recent grads in the US in meaningful work is just preposterous. I haven't even gotten to the plentiful headhunting agencies that bombard recent grads or about to grads with offers to join with that firm to be placed in the work force(since the head hunter gets a fee for doing so).
When I graduated I wanted to do it on my own. Went broke, had to have the wife(who was future wife at the time) buy me a weeks worth of groceries, and within a week I had a job in San Francisco paying me $20/hr when I went to a head hunter.
The US isn't England. You might want to familiarize yourself with the system here before making the claims you have.

Now to compare the difference between military recruiting at HS and colleges against corporations and colleges. It may have changed since I was a HS kid. But the military had the same stuff everyone else did in the day to day recruiting: just a table. On the big recruiting days(like College Day or jobfaire) they showed up with swag and a snazzy booth----but so did everyone else(I've got oodles of swag from cotton industry, Roche, Eli Lilly, Monsanto,... You want some? I have about 4000 pens(many of which light up or play songs) that I'll never use.) CD-ROM. Games. I've got games from DHHS(dept of health and human services)).
When I was in HS I never saw a recruiter on campus. Granted that was 1992 and not 2002. But I never saw a recruiter on campus. Ever. I never saw the JROTC guy either, though one of my x-country buddies was in JROTC and went on to The Point.
Something I know is in the news, ergo easy to research, is college recruiting by the military(the Solomon case, where it was ruled that the military must be afforded, no more and no less, than other entities attempting to recruit on campus) and the UC Santa Cruz incidents(where nothing more than a table at a jobfaire brought out all kinds of nasty.).

It is nothing like you seem to claim Katcha. Really, it isn't. I've seen more flash, swag, aggressiveness, and sheer numbers of recruiters from either colleges or companies than from the military. If I had a digital camera I'd take pictures to email to Trias for all to see the disparity between public sector and private sector recruiting.
"No problem, we can help you do it!" If I had a dime for every time a guidance councilor or headhunter told me exactly that I'd friggin' be able to buy Bill Gates.

It's a Grand Canyon of difference. May not be like that in the UK, Oz, and elsewhere; but it is here in the US.

"Military PR reps pro-actively and aggressively tour schools, shopping centres and so on to sway young people who are uncertain of what their future entails. They have specific targets to meet and so will tell them whatever they want to hear in order to get their signature. Want to become president? No problem, we can help you do it!"
Now this one really rankles my nose. Considering recent history, but I'll leave that to others. To handle.

The rest of you argument makes me ask questions: do you believe in liberalism or socialism? How far are we to go to eliminate the effects of bad choices or bad luck? At what point do you say to people, 'You're big boys and girls now. Take care of yourselves(oh, and if you screw up here's the list of public services to help you get by?'
"Many people avoid higher education altogether so they aren't saddled with huge debts if they find themselves in this situation" True, and they typically don't wind up making $150k/year either. Choices, Katcha. People get to make choices, and they get to live with them too. I actually advise people today not to go to college and attend a trade school instead. Particularly if they know they want to be a mechanic or do computer design type work. Why spend 4 years in a university to do CAD? A two year training program is good enough. Maybe England doesn't have something like IT&T technical institute, but the US does. England may not have ROP, with lots of people pushing it in the high schools; but the US does.

Carrying debt is no joke. Trust me, I'm carrying $10k myself, and so I get it. But, given that a Ph.D. is all but guaranteed a $25k/year job, if one is willing to take such a position cutting metal or working for state gov't doing data entry or becoming a public school teacher(ala my older brother who graduated with a degree in philosophy from UCI in 1985,then chose to become a truck driver; and now has three masters degrees, three kids, a house, and is working as a public school teacher to pay for it all while his wife, also trained to be a public school teacher, stays home.) I think your really making an 'that doesn't pay for the lifestyle I believe such a degree should earn me' type argument. I also think that's the wrong argument in this context. Gainful work can be had without joining the military. Read Susan Faludi's(no pro-capitalism pro-conservative writer is Susan) 'Stiffed' for an example of how a kid from the barrios of LA learned a trade that earned him his way out of the barrio(welder at the Long Beach harbor). And yeah, when I was at Santiago High School in Garden Grove, CA(about 25 miles away from LB) I knew about those jobs. There were pamphlets about it in our counseling offices. I bet that the pamphlets are still there now.

A degree is not a pass key to 'high living'. It's something that shows you've got a certain knowledge base/set of skills, are trainable, and that's it. Blood, hard work, sweat, and tears earns you the rest. Joining the military does the same thing. It shows someone you're competent and trainable. But to say that the military somehow is dishonest or moer aggressive in their recruiting just comes up wrong when you get down to cases. When you get down to real facts.
Gollum(aka ry)

AFSister said...

The US doesn't have a lot of females in combat roles for a variety of reasons- esp. in the Middle East. We have a culture of protecting our women, even in the military, so they are weapons qualified but rarely see "action". Although, we have had women receive the Silver Star for their actions under fire while in Iraq, so that culture is rapidly changing.

Gollum and John have answered the other questions about the Army being the easy way out for socio-economic reasons, and John answered the youth question. It's the same reason that inexperienced drivers get into so many accidents- they're young... and inexperienced. You can train the hell out of a dog, but until the dog reacts instinctively, it's still in training. Same thing with a soldier, except that the survival instinct comes with on-the-job experience in a war zone. Very dangerous stuff- but you know what? They all knew that when they signed up. Every last one.