Those Who Serve

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

70 Responses

  1. Dan Miller says:

    I’m sure there are cultural factors at play as well (which is why Hawaii doesn’t strike me as so odd–I’m sure a lot of that is military brats going into the family trade, or even just a generalized higher familiarity with the military as an option in a state that has a huge military presence). I’d love to see rural vs. urban broken out. Nice find!Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Dan Miller says:

      I’m sure there are cultural factors at play as well

      No doubt. BI goes into this somewhat, speculating that the location of military bases make the military a more conspicuous option than elsewhere. I’ve historically attributed this to Montana’s historically high rates of enlistment. A few changing states aside, there is probably a degree of circularity to it, where states with high enlistment rates stay that way because of the conspicuousness of the option as well as the tradition of it. (Virtually no military tradition in my family, and we never considered it.)

      Maine sort of jumps out at us as an outlier. Even though there aren’t military bases up there, on paper they’re pretty similar to Idaho (similar populations, Boise/Portland vs small cities and ruralia) and even though their politics don’t show it, their enlistment rates do. Also, with Maine being one of the two most rural states, it lends credence to the urban/rural divide. (Vermont is the other, and goes against that notion, but I’d argue that Vermont is a special case.)Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Dan Miller says:

      When I lived in New York, I saw enlisted people on the subway and around town on a fairly common frequency and not just during fleetweek. I don’t see this at all in San Francisco. Though I did run into a woman at jury duty who said her daughter was in the military.

      On the other hand, the undergrad component of my law school does have an active ROTC and they are in the gym when I go in the mornings.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I’d be curious to take a poll of how many of those enlisted were native to NYC or NY. My bet is people stationed nearby taking some liberty or leave to visit NYC while the opportunity presents.

        As for SF, I can’t speak from experience, but I remember shipmates telling me it was a place where uniforms were not welcome, except during Fleet Week.

        For those of us who enlist, we learn very quickly where/when it is safe/advantageous to be in uniform in public, & where/when it is not.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I think if you went to the outer boroughs, you would see people enlisting in the military for economic opportunity reasons. Not many but enough that it was not uncommon to see people in fatigues with rucksacks on the subway.Report

      • I speak from ignorance, but I’ve always perceived that there was a Navy tradition on the east coast. Seems like a lot of people I meet who served in the Navy are from somewhere in the East and more specifically the northern part of it.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I think that makes sense but have no knowledge or evidence. The people I saw were in army camo gear.Report

      • Mo in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Fort Hamilton is in Brooklyn and the USMA is only an hour away from NYC.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Aren’t there rules about when/where uniforms can be worn (and which type of uniform) and what can be done while in uniform? If I remember correctly, much of this was thrown out during Fleet Week, but otherwise there were some pretty strict codes (though I can’t speak to if/how they were enforced).


        I’ve got a handful of good friends — all from the greater New York area — who serve and all are either Navy or Marines. One kid I went to high school with went Army via the USMA. I don’t know how much of this is just a “proximity to water” thing and how much of it was a “raised on Top Gun thing” (which I know to be the driving force for at least one of the dudes).

        That’d actually be something worth looking at: what was the cultural response to the military in general or specific branches during certain generations’ formative years and how did that impact their enlistment/commissioning pattern. For instance, it wouldn’t shock me if today’s tweens and teens grow up with a preference for the Navy/SEALs as a result of SEAL Team Six and what not.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        There is a Navy tradition on the east coast, but it’s more Virginia & south than further north east.Report

  2. zic says:

    Will, nice work.

    This is totally from memory, but I know circa 2005/06, most people serving had enlisted for the opportunity to attend college; either while serving, or after. There was a burst of patriotic enlistment right after 9/11, but that declined rather quickly. From the military recruiters I spoke with (Brass, not field recruiters, for that, talk with Mad Rocket Scientist,) the caliber of person mattered, and they were definitely looking for college-abled candidates. Experiments with recruiting kids in trouble with the law or who seemed unlikely to succeed in college had ended in far too many people being shipped home in caskets for recklessness and hot-headedness and far too many discipline problems.

    So my guess is that there are two things here — first, family tradition, particularly strong in the southern states, and lower-middle income families with college aspirations but without means.

    I also think it’s very difficult to have any discussion about the people who serve without tribute to the reserves and guard members who pulled multiple tours, leaving families behind without the support of a base. I have not gone back and looked; but I’m interested in tracking reserve/guard participation for former-military after the difficult experiences people had serving so many tours.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to zic says:

      Isn’t there an old cliché of young offenders being told to enlist in order to avoid a year or two of prison?Report

      • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        That was very true pre-ww2. After ww2 it became less prevalent especially with moving to an all volunteer and more professional military starting in the 70’s.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I would bump that a couple of decades past Greg’s comment. I’d say that that still happened regularly through Korea and well into Vietnam.Report

      • zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        It happened again in the early 2000’s; Gen. John Watson told me this happened at the request of judges, contacting recruiters, looking for alternatives to trials and prison sentences, and not a military recruitment tactic. He never gave specific numbers, but it sounded like a few thousand people so enlisted; enough for the Army (his branch, he was the Gen. in charge of HR at the time), to determine that they were not at all happy with the results. I know of kids offered enlistment deals as late as 2006; but I suspect this was more, “you go enlist, I’ll drop the charges,” not actively working with recruiters.Report

      • Mo in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Born in the USA describes it being used for Vietnam and supposedly the practice was revived, on a more limited basis, for Iraq II.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I had one guy in my Basic training company that was there because of a judge. His was a case of the judge saying, “Join the service & complete 4 years without trouble, and your case will be dismissed.”

        No collaboration with recruiters, and if he couldn’t make the cut for enlistment or complete his term, he was SOL. But it’s always been my understanding that such cases are rare in the modern military. I recall the Army & USMC having trouble with gang members getting in & learning combat skills to take back to the streets (although that may be more urban legend than anything, all I ever heard was rumors).Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I remember kos posting about White Supremacists (who I count as a much larger danger, as they were going for high explosives training…).

        … besides, it’s not like major metropolitan areas haven’t seen explosives before (Lord knows, gangs can get their hands on some pretty nasty shit. It’s rarely worthwhile for them to actually USE it, however). Hell, some chemical weapons are STILL buried (too dangerous to dig up, naturally. What if they’re Leaking!??).Report

  3. Kazzy says:

    Maine is not as blue a state as many traditionally believe. It is the nation’s whitest state and has strong rural and conservative streaks to it.

    I think the changing nature of war is also likely to impact educational backgrounds. As we move from grunts on the ground to remote drone pilots, we’re going to be looking for a very different skill set.

    By the way, I see you refer to the studies examining who “enlists” in the military. Are you using “enlist” to mean its formal military definition or more colloquially? Formally, enlisted refers to servicemen/women who join the enlisted ranks and typically lack a college degree. Officers must have a college degree and I believe must come through either a service academy, ROTC, or OCS (Officer Candidate School). Many people use “enlist” to refer to anyone joining the military through any means and in any capacity. Zazzy, who separated as a Lieutenant in the Navy, an O-3 ranking (Officer, third up from the bottom) never enlisted; she was commissioned. I did not click through either link so if this is answered there, my apologies. However, it seems prudent to be as precise as possible with this particular bit of language, especially given that you discuss educational background.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      I know that Heritage was looking specifically and enlistees and not those who enter as officers (they had a separate section for service academy grads and the like). I assume that BI has done the same, and it looks like they did. (They used numbers from the DOD talking about “enlistment.”)

      I probably should have titled the post “Those Who Enlist” since the distinction you refer to is real and many people go the academy/ROTC route.

      Incidentally, my cousin went to a state academy (like VMI or Citadel) and was not offered a commission. We didn’t know that was a thing. (He didn’t, either, as that derailed the plans he had made.)

      And you’re right about Maine. Maine is a red state in drag the same way that Arizona is in many ways a blue state (overwhelmingly urban, disproportionately minority) that wears red.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Will Truman says:

        Correct, enlistment is non-coms. When speaking of officers, it’s usually in terms of “Commissions received”.


        What did your wife do in the Navy?Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        You know, the usual. Find pleasure, search the world for treasure, learn science technology…Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


        I think the post is fine titled as is and I hope my comment didn’t across as needlessly pedantic. I just wanted to make sure I understood since that term does mean something very specific and important to the discussion but is often used colloquially to mean something different.

        Zazzy did four years in the Nurse Corp stationed out of Bethesda Medical (before it became Walter Reed). She did mostly med/surg during her early career and saw a lot of wounded warriors coming home. She served from June 06 to June 10 and did a tour in Kuwait at Arifjan in 09.Report

      • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        And you’re right about Maine. Maine is a red state in drag

        I don’t think this is right. Maine’s the oldest state; and older people vote more reliably, so elections with low turnout (2010, for instance) will be reliably Republican. But higher turnout — above 40% of registered voters, tend to lean Democratic or Independent. After the 2010 election, which gave us our beloved buffoon of a governor and a Republican House and Senate, the Republicans made big-enough fools of themselves that both houses have since turned blue, and I will be very shocked if Michaud doesn’t win the Governor’s office.

        Collins will probably win, though Bellows is an excellent candidate, and polls suggest she’s making inroads. For Collins, it’s her seniority in the Senate, working on behalf of keeping the Portsmouth Navy Yard open despite it showing up in the BRAC list repeatedly. Even here, I think people are losing their fears; Bath Iron Works has been doing a lot of work on non-military ships, deep-water rigs, etc., and the former Brunswick Air Force base has capitalized on it’s military-grade security to become something of a technology hub; even Loring is thriving, thanks to the occasional Phish concert or Phish-band-member concert. Dead heads abound.

        Most importantly is the engaged younger voters after our last medical marijuana referendum. Nearly every little town has a grow/garden shop; it’s working hand-in-hand with the local food movement, and that’s where our latest economic growth is happening.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


        You obviously know far better than I, but I still suspect that ME is less blue than MA, VT, CT, in New England and even NY, NJ, MD, DE along the rest of the east coast. I don’t know enough about NH or RI to place them.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    I think it is a combination of culture and economic opportunity.

    I did not grow up in a town where enlisting right after high school was considered something noble to do. I think it probably would have faintly marked someone as an academic failure because I went to high school with the sons and daughters of professionals and professors (mainly). We were all expected and largely all did attend college/university and many of us also attended graduate school to become professionals and professors. I think the exception in my hometown would have been for one the military academies like West Point. Another interesting factor is that we were the children of boomers. Many of our parents protested against the Vietnam War and sought draft deferments. I did have some friends whose dads were in Vietnam and were not fond of the experience. This also probably caused an influence away from enlisting. The new young enlistees are more likely to be the grandchildren of Vietnam Vets or the children of Gulf War I vets, or at very least the children of people with warmer memories of Reagan and no memories of LBJ and Nixon.

    Now I can’t say whether it is good or not that the decision to enlist or not is closely tied to culture and economics. I wonder how many Jewish-Americans are enlisted in the military anyway. It would probably be a better country if there was more of a liberal presence in the military but there is also something oxymoronic of someone with dovish inclinations enlisting in the military.

    All that being said, I am still opposed to the idea of a national draft.Report

    • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      Funny thing is, most enlisted & officers are also opposed to a draft. I mean, there is always the idea that people do some kind of service term, but even here the idea of putting people who don’t want to fight into a fighting role is a bad idea (and thus there would need to be service jobs for people so inclined).Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I can see that. I was mainly commenting on the idea (and it is a popular enough one) that there would be more national unity if everyone had to do a year or two of military service.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I’m sympathetic to the idea of a civil service requirement, which would include a wide range of public service positions (e.g., military, fire department, police department, teaching, postal service… what else am I missing?). Unfortunately, practically speaking it would be inefficient to train people who are likely to do the minimum and leave — and we sure as hell would want people trained and trained well for most of these gigs. And if you broadened it to include positions that required less training, you run the risk of creating all sorts of ugly “social sorting”.Report

        • Patrick in reply to Kazzy says:

          There’s lots of low-level work you can do without training that needs to get done.

          I’m still musing about how I fell about mandatory service requirements. I think I’m against ’em. But they’re procedurally workable without too much in the way of loss of efficiency.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Can you give some examples, @patrick ?Report

      • If I supported something like a draft (which I don’t… I think it has 13th Amendment problems), it’d be because of the whole mixing of people from this class with people from that class sort of thing.

        When you’re forced to bunk with and make friends with (or just have to learn to freakin’ get along with) people whose backgrounds are *NOTHING* like yours, that’s good for everybody involved.

        But apart from the 13th Amendment problem, there’s also the whole “you know that rich folks and upper middle class folks will find loopholes” thing so that you’d mostly have from the middle lower class to the middle middle class all intermixing… which would still have benefits, don’t get me wrong, but the benefits definitely would *NOT* outweigh the costs (as opposed to them just being vaguely debatable).Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Every Navy enlisted member (& every line officer) is trained as a firefighter. Us engineers & airdales got some additional training since we worked around flammables more often, but everyone learned the basics in about 2 weeks.

        The Damage Control specialists were the people responsible for making sure we were all up on our training, and in the event of a major fire or other such emergency, our training was to identify the nearest person who was the professional & follow their orders. A handful of people quickly trained on the basics could become a damned effective hose team with simple direction from a pro.

        You get similar benefit from a good first aid & triage class, or a CERT class, etc.

        If you have someone for 24/7, you can stuff a lot of training into them in a very short amount of time & still have them be effective, if you have pros to direct them, and you drill them regularly (which is easy if you have them 24/7).

        The big hurdle to any kind of federal service would not be the effectiveness of the recruits, it would be the massive cost of supporting that many people for what would be a debatable public benefit. I know people tend to be critical of Heinleins path to franchise in Starship Troopers, but it is not a bad idea, just needs a bit of tweaking.Report

      • Patrick in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        The big hurdle to any kind of federal service would not be the effectiveness of the recruits, it would be the massive cost of supporting that many people for what would be a debatable public benefit.

        The hard part is that these sorts of programs do generally pay off, but only very rarely and the successes don’t make as much news as the failures, so it’s very very hard for the public to see the actual benefit. Also, it’s hard to measure “a community of 1,000,000 got hit by a hurricane and we had only two less fatalities but a 34% decrease in PTSD and a 55% decrease in physical injuries” in economic terms.

        Radio training, first aid, urban search and rescue, triage, logistics… all of that stuff is very useful in mid- to large-scale disasters.

        But I was actually thinking more along the lines of even more basic stuff. There is trash to pick up, graffiti to paint over, train cars to be cleaned, buses to be cleaned, play structures to be constructed, hiking trails that need maintenance, ground cover to be planted, ditches to be dug, janitorial work at schools, in-class tutoring to be done, reshelving books at the library, etc., etc.)Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        That’s a lot of paid jobs you’re substituting for, Patrick. What exactly is the benefit of having a conscripted servicecorps to pick up trash and reshelve books?Report

      • Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        …gets them out of the underground economy? (8% of GDP!).Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Such basic service jobs would still be paid, just by the government, at basic military pay rates, and no unions jacking up the price beyond the value.


        Such a program could also be a path to citizenship. Show up @ the border, meet some basic requirements (background check, basic English skills, etc.), serve two years… boom, citizen!

        It boggles my mind that serving 4 years in the military is still not an automatic citizenship at the end of the first enlistment.Report

      • Damon in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Well, gee, schools already have “mandatory volunteerism” in my area. I’ve always found that funny to put those two words together.

        Draft / mandatory volunteerism / required service, etc. It’s all the same. When someone controls some, or all, of another person, it’s slavery.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Germany had until fairly recently mandatory-ish service for young men only.

        The quickest route was military service, which took 9 or 10 months.

        If you claimed to be a conscientious objector to military service you could spend a few months longer doing a ‘Zivildienst’ (civilian service) year – hospital orderlies, nursing home staff, guides in nature reserves and museums, general maintenance stuff at all manner of facilities. Some people did their civilian service abroad supporting one of Germany’s foreign aid programs, which was generally less well paid and took a few months longer yet, but meant you got a free year abroad.

        To be approved as a conscientious objector, you had to write an essay outlining the nature of your objection, which implies that illiterate people can’t validly be pacifists, or something. I guess it also served to make sure that the people sent to public institutions to do socially useful civilian things were at least minimally qualified to follow written instructions.

        I got the impression that part of the reason they hung on to conscription as long as they did was that it was so useful to have the conscientious objectors doing very socially beneficial things for below-market wages.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        There are still some countries I believe with mandatory military service in Europe but I think it is being phased out. I think the idea work in countries with small populations but probably gets a bit hard once the population passes 30 million. Yet alone the 300 million in the United States.


        Spoken like a true libertarian 🙂 I think the idea of national service is supposed to be more of a social good than a economic good. It is supposed to build bridges between socio-economic classes and people from different parts of the region. The kid who grew up on a farm will for a best buddy group with the kid who attended Deerfield and learned to use summer as a verb, and the kid who is a first generation American, etc.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I also wonder how much of the idea of mandatory military service is a Red v. Blue and socio-economic issue. The people I see push for mandatory military service tend to be on the right-side of the spectrum, tend to be from exurban and rural locations, and tend to think it will teach middle class and above blue people some “honest work”.Report

      • The people I see push for mandatory military service tend to be on the right-side of the spectrum, tend to be from exurban and rural locations, and tend to think it will teach middle class and above blue people some “honest work”.

        Huh. The people I see do it tend to be on the left side, and tend to believe that requiring service of the sons and daughters of rich well-connected warmongers (instead of just volunteer service members that are often the kids of poor/working class folks with limited options and influence) might result in reduced mongering by their folks.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        As soon as we say mandatory mingling of the masses, I’m all into it. 😉

        Truthfully I find it appalling that we consider indentured servitude acceptable just because it’s collectively done, rather than individually done. How that actually legitimizes it escapes me.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @saul-degraw FWIW Germany surpassed the 30 million population mark sometime around 1830.

        Brazil and Mexico, the world’s fifth and eleventh most populous countries, have some sort of conscription systems, though apparently neither country actually needs or can afford to have anything like the whole male population serve full time for a year, so only a minority actually do anything active.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Mexico’s got the 14th largest GDP, and Brazil’s 7th in the world. So I think it’s probably a “doesn’t want to” rather than “can’t afford it”Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Some liberals argue for the return of the draft on the theory that it would end any inclination towards military adventurism a la Iraq II. The idea seems to be that the potential for mass casualties would be so high that few politicians would have the stomach to engage in Iraq-style adventures least citizens vote them out of office in backlash. I don’t think that these liberals have really examined the historical record that well, which suggests that democratic states with conscript armies have no problem with military adventurism. France’s Third Republic is a key example.Report

      • @james-hanley I find it appalling that we consider indentured servitude acceptable just because it’s collectively done, rather than individually done. How that actually legitimizes it escapes me.

        It might legitimize it the same way that if we take your money collectively, that’s ‘taxation’, but if I do it individually, that’s ‘theft’.

        Or if I lock you in a room on my own, that’s ‘kidnapping’; but if we do it collectively, that’s ‘jail’.

        Note that I don’t think “taxation=theft” (nor do I think conscription is on balance a good idea, barring existential danger to the country); I just mean that we mostly accept under some other circumstances that the collective needs of the many may (may) outweigh the needs of the one.

        But we should always strive to set that bar high, IMO.Report

      • Damon in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        You’r right. What I think MIGHT change the calculus is to mandate that each member of congress who votes for a declaration of war, or use of force, or funds same, has his rear end conscripted and put on the first way of troops in country. I’d think the idea of taking incoming fire would “clarity” to the mind a bit before the vote. Now how do we get that enshrined?Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        The problem with the whole “Send the warmonger’s kid into war & it’ll end right quick” ignores the realities of the Pentagon.

        For example, Bush the Lesser.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist, that isn’t exactly the argument of the liberal advocates of the draft. They believe that if every young person is enrolled in the armed forces than politicians would less likely vote for military action because they would fear the electoral consequences of masses of young Americans dying. This never happened in real life even during Vietnam.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Oh, well, that argument is unlikely at best.

        During Vietnam, we had something on the order of 58K KIA & 153K WIA.

        Iraq/Afghanistan is currently around 6000 KIA & ~50K WIA.

        In short, we are getting better at not being in the mass death end of a conflict.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Taxation can be justified for public goods. And reasonably small amounts of taxation can be justified on that they’re just marginal amounts, not confiscating all the proceeds of your labor. And it doesn’t deprive you of freedom to quit your job, move, etc.

        Conscription requires the entirety of your labor and deprives you of a far greater amount of your freedom. And in the case of military conscription, demands that your life is in fact the property of the state’s to such an extent that they can make you give it up.

        The more you demand, the harder it is to justify it.Report

    • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      My dad served in Vietnam (well, he was in France and Greece, but his unit was in Vietnam). Both my grandparents served, and of my greatgrandparent’s generation, many were lost to WWI.Report

  5. wardsmith says:

    Hi Will, Nice OP, but wondered if this quote from it was intentionally amusing or unintentional?

    “I don’t know why Mississippi would go from a blow-average to above-average state”.

    Either way, from now on I’m thinking of Mississippi as a blow-average state regardless. 🙂Report

  6. Kim says:

    One ought not to talk about “the South” when one means Appalachia.
    Had the Union Coal Miners in town for the EPA meeting — they stopped talking about that to talk about how many vets they had, and how they were the most Patriotic folks on Earth.

    Appalachia in particular has a very, very strong tendency to go military (See “Born Fightin'”)Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

      It’s not just Appalachia. It’s not even particularly Appalachia.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        Those are fighting words to Jim Webb.Report

      • Well, to be fair, Appalachia may be well-represented. But West Virginia and Kentucky don’t stand out among “southern” states. Other states with some Appalachia do, though we don’t have any indication on where the military representation is coming from within the state.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Statistics are blargle, apparently:
        I’m seeing some actual geographical consistency in:
        Urban Zones (where I know ’em — SoCal, BosWash) — low recruitment.
        SE Texas and highland Florida/Mississippi(high recruitment)Report

      • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’d love to see an overlay of that map with the location of military bases. For example, the only dark green area in Tennessee outside of the western portions of the Smokies appears to be around Clarksville, which is where many Fort Campbell soldiers reside (and Fort Campbell’s county, across the border in Kentucky, is also dark green). Otherwise, it looks like it’d be pretty difficult to get a pattern just from that map.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:
        Good luck with the overlay.
        (I’m surprised how few bases are in places like WV…)Report

      • That’s an awesome link, @kim , thanks for sharing.

        @chris The BI article talks about bases at a national level, though not a regional one. It’s probably not a coincidence that South Alabama has high enlistment rates and is near Pensacola. That explains some of the hotspots, though certainly not all.Report

      • (I’m surprised how few bases are in places like WV…)

        What does WV offer that the military needs? It’s not coastal in any meaningful way. The terrain doesn’t match well for training for any of the kinds of war the military has been involved in for the last 100 years. Transportation of heavy equipment in or out is hard. With no disrespect, it lacks the kind of population center that can offer a civilian workforce with a wide range of skills.

        To pick a counter example… The US Army would like to use eminent domain to take a piece of Colorado equal in area to the entire state of Massachusetts to use as a new tank playground. Why Colorado and not WV (aside from the obvious “there’s already a much smaller tank maneuver area in Colorado”)? The terrain is a reasonable match to that of the areas where the Army thinks it might deploy tanks. Plenty of room for large air transport facilities. Easy access to rail and interstate systems going to any coast you want to pick. Pick a set of skills you need for research or support and it’s available along the Front Range.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Senatorial Support.Report

      • Citizen in reply to Will Truman says:

        “What does WV offer that the military needs?”
        Its home to the east coast seal teams and a fair portion of that special sh*t that doesn’t exist.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        and greenbrier, for that matter.Report

      • Senatorial Support.

        I’d like to meet the people at the Pentagon who “war game” their political strategy (I’m sure that such must exist). If the target is, say, 60 Senators who are on your side, it seems like WV’s are a low-value proposition. The biggest official facility in the state (Base #436 on your neat map) is an air national guard unit co-located at the Charleston municipal airport; it’s on the BRAC list for realignment and shrinkage; clearly, the Pentagon doesn’t care much. Better to buy Senators in states like CA, where you really, really need the facilities anyway.

        The Pentagon is in a tough position these days. An awful lot of Congressional decisions seem to be about using the military as a way to prop up local civilian economies, as in “Keeping the base open to avoid devastating my district’s economy is more important than whether the base serves any real tactical purpose.”Report

  7. Citizen says:

    “Nevada is a curious case, as their economy was stronger in 2007 than it is now, but enlistment rates have fallen from among the highest in the country to something closer to mid-range.”

    Several gun manufacturers have moved to NV. Ammo suppliers have increased production there.
    Maybe related somehow.Report