Attrition: New Marines Are Different


December 7, 2007: Black enlistments fell from 18 percent of U.S. Marine Corps recruits in the 1980s to less than 8 percent by 2006, with much of the decline occurring since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This is attributed to anti-war sentiments in the Black community, but there is also a trend towards less educational achievement among Black males, which makes them less eligible to enlist at all. Lower levels of physical fitness are also a problem.

Black marines, however, reenlist at substantially higher rates than marines from other racial or ethnic backgrounds. Some 40 percent of first term Black marines reenlist, compared to about 25 percent of Whites and nearly 30 percent of Hispanics. Because of that, about 18 percent of marines are still black. About a quarter of the senior NCOs are black. Blacks are about twelve percent of the U.S. population. As in the army, black marine recruit prefer support jobs, thus only about five percent of the marine infantry are black. About five percent of new officers are Black.

Meanwhile, Hispanic recruits for in the Marine Corps have increased to about 17 percent. More Whites have also joined, making up for the decline in Black recruits.


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