Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Top 5 Reasons Soldiers Really Join The Army, According To Junior Enlisteds
Americans join the Army for plenty of reasons: for country, family, and honor. According to a new study of enlisted soldiers, however, a core motivation is relatively simple: for money.
A RAND Corporation exhaustive survey of 81 soldiers between E-1 and E-4 suggests that the choice to enlist is influenced by two overlapping factors: institutional ones like family and duty, and occupational ones like professional development and job stability.
But while 37% of soldiers identified cited both institutional and occupational reasons for joining the Army, a full 46% said they enlisted due to purely occupational reasons; only 9% said they joined for entirely institutional ones. (Interestingly, those who did cite service as a calling were mostly medics.)
In other words, the overwhelming majority of respondents had economic reasons for joining up; for most enlistees, it seems military service is a job first and a calling second.
According to the RAND study, the primary motivations for enlisting include:
- Adventure and travel: Perhaps Matthew Modine was onto something in Full Metal Jacket when he commented that he "wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture... and kill them." 42% of soldiers joined up to get the hell out of Dodge. “I’ve been in Kansas the majority of my life, so I figured if I joined [the Army], I’d have a greater chance to go out and visit new states and new countries," one soldier told the RAND researchers.
- Benefits: A significant number of soldiers (32%) called military benefits a major motivation for enlisting: health care, active-duty tuition assistance, and post-service support structures like the GI Bill. Military service is a "lifeline" for some Americans, the researchers note, citing one single mother who joined "just because I had my son and I needed the benefits, I guess you could say."
- Job stability and pay: Nearly a quarter of soldiers had a simple explanation for their decision to enlist: They “needed to make money," especially given the economic turmoil the country's faced in recent years. "The Army can provide me with great education benefits, great career benefits later on," one soldier told the researchers. "So... why not start that and do that, instead of just working at some dead-end job that’s only paying minimum wage, maybe $10 an hour when I can go and get fantastic benefits?"After weighing the factors, another added, "I was like, well, why not, and if I stay in for 20-plus years [I can] retire at 40. So it seemed like a good deal to me, especially in the economy we’re in."
- Escaping a negative environment: For many, the military isn't just an economic lifeline — it's a sociopolitical one. "I guess I just joined to get out of the situation I was in, didn’t really see myself going anywhere," one soldier told the RAND researchers. "Yeah, [I feel like the Army has provided that for me]. The kids that I grew up with, out of the group that I hung out with, two of them are in jail and then the three either passed away or disappeared."
- Job training: Many of the enlisted soldiers chose the Army over other service branches "because it allows enlistees
to choose their MOS before enlisting," providing an extra incentive for those who see the military primarily as an economic vehicle, according to RAND: "Participants stated that this provided them a bit of autonomy and allowed them some idea of the role they would be expected to play once their terms of service began."
Ironically, those soldiers who cited occupational incentives for enlisting over sacred ideals tended to stick with military service in the long haul, though soldiers who saw the Army as a career "tended to cite institutional motives with more frequency than those who did not," the researchers write. Just because the military service is a job and not a calling doesn't mean enlisted soldiers aren't planning on kicking ass at their job.
Well, maybe not too much ass. When asked why they chose to pursue the Army over other service branches, a few soldiers responded that they "felt the Marines were 'way too hardcore,'" according to RAND. "One respondent recoiled from joining the Marines after his Marine recruiter became overzealous and tackled him during a game of ultimate Frisbee."
Two airmen were administratively punished for drinking at the missile launch control center for 150 nuclear LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, the Air Force confirmed to Task & Purpose on Friday.
The U.S. Senate closed out the week before Memorial Day by confirming Gen. James McConville as the Army's new chief of staff and Adm. Bill Moran as the Navy's new chief of naval operations.
McConville, previously vice chief of staff of the Army, was confirmed on Thursday along with his successor, Lt Gen. Joseph Marin. Moran, currently vice chief of naval operations, was confirmed Friday along with his successor, Vice Adm. Robert Burke.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is prohibiting service members who work there from being in the area of a Ku Klux Klan rally scheduled for Saturday in downtown Dayton, Ohio.
Pentagon: We won't reveal proof Iran is behind recent Middle East attacks, but have we ever been wrong before?
The Pentagon is producing precisely diddly-squat in terms of proof that Iran is behind recent attacks in the Middle East, requiring more U.S. troops be sent to the region.
Adm. Michael Gilday, director of the Joint Staff, said on Friday that the U.S. military is extending the deployment of about 600 troops with four Patriot missile batteries already in the region and sending close to 1,000 other service members to the Middle East in response to an Iranian "campaign" against U.S. forces.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will send about 1,500 American troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure, amid heightened tensions with Iran.
However, the Republican leader played down the potential for military conflict in the region, saying he believed Iran did not want a confrontation with the United States.
"We want to have protection in the Middle East. We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan.