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An implicit goal of Congress, the Department of Defense, and the armed services is that diversity in the armed services should approximate diversity in the general population. A key aspect of that diversity is the representation of Hispanics. Although polls of Hispanic youth show a strong propensity to serve in the military, Hispanics are nevertheless underrepresented among military recruits. The authors discuss the major characteristics that disproportionately disqualify Hispanic youth and explore the following questions: If recruiting standards were relaxed, what would be the effect on military performance? What actions could be taken to increase Hispanic enlistments? Finally, they examine several approaches to increasing enlistments — increasing the number of Hispanic youth who are eligible and would meet the military's entry standards, increasing interest and recruiting more intensively among the qualified Hispanic population, and targeting recruiting toward less-qualified Hispanics.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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