America's All Volunteer Military Is Getting Older

by James Glaser
July 30, 2003

Every day, when I read about the latest death in Iraq I always notice that the age of those killed was not the "cannon fodder" age I expected. I was thinking that most of those killed would be in their teens.

I looked up the statistics of the Vietnam war and found that while the average age of a combatant was 19, the average of those killed in that war was 23.11 years. While I could find no information on the average age of the American forces today, I was able to figure out the average age of those killed in this new Iraq war. listed 224 of the Americans that have been killed so far, with their ages. To my surprise the average age of those killed is 27.15 years. In this new war the troops getting killed are on average, are over 4 years older that those killed in Vietnam

To tell you the truth, I can't think of anyone out in the field in Vietnam that was even twenty five. I went over at the age of 21 and was the oldest guy in my bunker in Dong Ha. There were older Marines in our unit for sure, but they tended to stay down in Da Nang and they would come out to the various landing zones I was at for the day, but come dark and they headed back down South.

I can only imagine what the desert heat is doing to some National Guard Soldier that is over twenty five, maybe in his thirties. That one weekend a month doesn't keep you in the shape most teenager warriors are in. Some of those guys are sucking wind after a few hours in that heat.

Sure it is great that we have this all volunteer Military, but with more and more men and women making it a career our troops average age is bound to increase. No matter how much we stress conditioning we are going to reach a point that we won't have enough young personnel to handle the job.

At one time the military knew that fresh troops would be signing up in order to replace those that did their Military Draft Hitch or maybe those that had that choice given to them by a Judge, "the Marines or jail." Also in past wars the number of combat deaths and maiming wounds were much higher and that caused the need for more young recruits too.

Our current Military will have to solve this aging problem before too long or our troops won't have the vitality that young men naturally have. We can't let everyone that wants to make it a career and that average age of deaths tells us our Army is getting old.

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