An example of why the Marine Corps works

Published: Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 12:16 AM.

Liars figure and figures lie, as the old adage goes. One can often make statistics fit one’s argument regardless of the statistic … or the argument.

But it’s pretty clear that compared to their comrades in the United States Air Force, Army, and Navy, Marines are very young. Occasionally you’ll hear a senior staff non-commissioned officer or an older commissioned officer refer to them as “kids.”

When my wife and I pass through one of the local USMC main gates, she often exclaims when a particularly young Marine motions us through the gate, “He’s just a baby!” Well, they’re neither babies nor kids. They’ve got to be pretty tough young men and women to successfully earn the title of U.S. Marine.

According to Department of Defense manpower statistics compiled by several websites (including, the average age of a Marine is 25, compared to 29 for the Army, and 30 for the Air Force and Navy.

In the Marine Corp, 45.7 percent are E-3 and below (low enlisted ranks) compared to 26 percent, 25.6 percent, and 28.9 percent for the Air Force, Army and Navy, respectively. The officer to enlisted ratio is 1-to-8.4 for the Marines but 1-to-4, 1-to-5, and 1-to-5.3 for the Air Force, Army and Navy, respectively.

And when figured as a percentage, nearly twice as many Marines are 18- to 21-years old compared to their older airmen, soldiers and sailors.

All-in-all, Marines are younger and of lower rank and experience (some not even 18 when enlisted), and this youth forms a much larger percentage of Marine Corps fighting power than that of the Corps’ sister services.

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