The number of blacks signing up for the military has dropped 38% since the beginning of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, reports the AP. The number of new active-duty and reserve recruits fell from 51,500 in 2001 to less than 32,000 in 2006, reflecting both greater job opportunities and increasing opposition by relatives and community leaders.
But the Iraq war's death toll of 3,540 U.S. troops remains the biggest deterrent, says one general. In response to the decline, the military is gearing its recruiting strategy toward "influencers," such as pastors, coaches, teachers, and particularly parents. Support among all of them is down, with mothers least likely to encourage joining the service and backing among grandparents skidding.