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Population Demographics May Threaten U.S. Security

May 15, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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An aging U.S. population and a younger population in tropical areas may pose troubles for U.S. national security in the near future, said a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC (Ret.), the inaugural Harold Brown Chair in defense policy studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the audience at Joint Warfighting 2012 that the different priorities of both groups could put the United States at risk. In the United States, an aging population that averages 44 years old has different priorities than it did a generation ago. This group is tending to focus more on health care than on activities such as defense and education. By neglecting those two topics, they may not be paying enough attention to both vital elements. Conversely, the average age of the people who live in the tropics is less than 20 years old. They live in environments in which economic rewards are imbalanced and their resources are misappropriated. Even though educated, these young people have nothing to lose by resorting to drastic actions, such as the recent Arab spring, the general warned. These two population trends could prove to be a bad combination for U.S. interests.

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