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May 18, 2007

ASA Holds Hill Briefing on Military


WASHINGTON, DC, MAY 18, 2007—The American Sociological Association (ASA) held a congressional briefing, hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, to present practical social science data and research findings of relevance to U.S. military recruitment and retention today. The purpose of the briefing was to provide timely information pertinent to the news of the day: The reportedly overstretched U.S. military in Iraq, with troops serving unprecedented third and fourth tours. This situation has provoked debate about military preparedness among national policymakers in need of useful information to inform federal actions.

At the same time, public controversy over the 14-year-old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy is reemerging as increasing numbers of service members disclose sexual orientations in conflict with DADT. According the Department of Defense, 11,000 troops were discharged because of the military’s ban on openly gay service members. As the demand for troop surges heightens, as more and more soldiers are “coming out,” and as families deal with the pressures of longer tours, the military finds itself approaching a critical social-cultural crossroads.
Morten Ender, David R. Segal, former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke

ASA’s briefing attracted a packed audience of nearly 40 senate and congressional staff, social science leaders, science policymakers, and federal agency representatives. The briefing, titled “Military Recruitment & Retention: The Impact of Social and Cultural Factors,” featured Dr. Morten Ender, Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York; Former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke, who elected not to re-enlist because of the military's DADT ban on openly gay personnel; and Dr. David R. Segal, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Research on Military Organization, University of Maryland.

The speakers presented social science data and Fricke recounted personal experience to discuss social and cultural issues facing the military today. Segal explained the current state of research affecting homosexuals in the military. He stated there is “no relationship or negative relationship between social cohesion and performance. There has not been a single empirical test of hypothesis that when sexual orientation integration occurs in the military, cohesion is undermined and performance suffers.”

During the briefing, Ender described the effects of the army’s policies and practices on the soldiers and their families. Ender stated, “Soldiers and families in 2004 and 2005 conveyed that the demands of frequent and extended deployments and strain of extra workloads on the non-deployed, will negatively influence retention through their impact on work.” In addition, he said that “families…are increasingly dissatisfied with the length, frequency, and unpredictability of deployments.”

For more a copy of the PowerPoint data/research presentations or for more information on the speakers, contact Sujata Sinha at ssinha@asanet.org or (202) 247-9871.

About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.