Who Joins the Army? A Cultural Analysis

Authors: John Dzwonczyk*,
Topics: Military Geography, Applied Geography, Regional Geography
Keywords: military, United States, culture
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Two significant volumes (Garreau 1982; Woodard 2011) have been published on the idea that North America is not simply three countries (the United States, Canada, and Mexico), but a collection of culturally distinct nations. The precise number, naming, and borders of these nations varies, but they are generally geographically similar—a nation in each of Quebec, New England, the Great Lakes, the South, the sparsely populated (Mid)West, the Spanish/Mexican influenced southwest, and a coastal stretch from San Francisco north to Vancouver. The US Military Academy at West Point, the US Army’s premier officer training institution, draws cadets from every state in the US, but that information tells us very little about the cultural composition of the Corps of Cadets. Furthermore, it tells us nothing about the proportion of cadets who come from traditionally military families, possibly a “nation” of its own. The (non)-existence of this proposed nation would be a measurable indicator of whether the Army is becoming a “warrior class,” distinct from the country it defends, as anecdotal evidence indicates. Using anonymized, institutionally-collected data from cadets who graduated USMA in 2017, 2012, 2007, 2002, and 1997, this research aims to determine which “nations” cadets are drawn from, whether each nation contributes a (dis)proportionate share relative to its population, and whether those have changed over time. In doing so, we hope to find indicators of the cultural characteristics that incentivize cadets to attend USMA as well as whether those characteristics predict a cadet’s eventual success.

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