As we debate the great issues facing the United States, a single provocative question stands out: "Who will fight America's wars?"
The nation is experiencing dramatic demographic changes that will significantly alter how it looks and acts in the coming years. There is a great deal of speculation about the aging of America's population, its growing diversity, and the social, political, economic, and cultural implications thereof.
But another issue, the proverbial elephant in the room, awaits us: Who will fight America's wars during the demographic transition? Or, put less dramatically, who will satisfy the manpower needs of an all-volunteer military when the U.S. becomes a majority-minority nation and the (primarily white) elderly make up 20 to 25 percent of the overall population?
We live in an age of ongoing conflicts. The U.S. must maintain a willing and qualified pool of young recruits for its armed forces. But who will make up that pool?
The question takes on added urgency in an aging society where whites become the minority and fertility levels of non-Hispanic white females fall below replacement levels.
By 2050, minorities and immigrants will form the majority demographic and Hispanics will account for a third of the U.S. population. This profile militates for increased enlistment of Hispanics, immigrants, and other minorities.