Facing South

Institute Report: Southerners Most Affected By War

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[The Institute for Southern Studies released a new report today about the South's unique ties to the military and foreign policy. Here's the press release -- the full report will be up soon. UPDATE: You can read the full report here (pdf)]

August 25, 2006

SOUTHERNERS MOST AFFECTED BY WAR

New report reveals Southern region most tied to,
impacted by, U.S. military and foreign policy

DURHAM, N.C. – As national debate grows over the Iraq war and the course of U.S. foreign policy, a new report shows that the U.S. South – more than any other region of the country – is the most tied to and impacted by the nation’s military and foreign wars.

The study by the non-profit Institute for Southern Studies, “Missiles and Magnolias: The South at War 2005,” analyzed which states provide the most military recruits, where troops are stationed, and which states attract the most defense contracts.

“Politically and economically, the South remains the heart of our country’s military,” said Desiree Evans, a co-author of the report and fellow at the non-profit Institute. “The South stands the most to gain – and the most to lose – from the fortunes and misfortunes of war.”

Among the report’s key findings:

The South provides a disproportionate share of the nation’s troops. An analysis of Department of Defense state reveals that 35% of the nation’s active-duty military personnel come from 13 Southern states. Of the top 15 states where those serving in the military are born, the South accounts for seven.

The South especially dominant in stationing troops. 51% of active-duty U.S. military personnel based in the continental U.S. are stationed in the South. Four of the top states for stationing troops are in the South: Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia.

The South has been the region most highly impacted by the loss of soldiers in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of the U.S. troops that have died in Iraq, 38% were based in the South. 47% of those killed in Afghanistan were based in Southern states.

Southern states draw a substantial share of military contracting and production. An analysis of prime defense contracts reveals that 32% of the contracts granted in 2005 have gone to companies operating in Southern states, led by states rich in defense production such as Virginia, Texas and Florida.

Southern leaders play a critical role in promoting a unilateral and aggressive foreign policy. An analysis of voting records reveals the critical role played by the South’s Congressional delegation in promoting military investment and foreign wars. For example, in the latest scorecard by Peace Action, 58% of Southerners in the U.S. House and Senate scored in the bottom quarter of the peace group’s ratings on key votes for the Iraq war, arms sales, and support for the United Nations.

The report singles out North Carolina as one state especially entangled with current military operations. Troops from Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne and other North Carolina units have been heavily involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly 12% of the casualties have been military personnel from what a new advertising campaign calls “the nation’s most military-friendly state.”

“This report drives home what most Southerners already know,” says report co-author Chris Kromm, Executive Director of the Institute. “Almost everybody in the South knows someone in the service, who works at a base, or is otherwise connected to the military. That has a big impact on how Southerners view the military and foreign policy.”

The study is an update of a 2002 report by the Institute about the South’s military ties. The study three years ago found that 42% of the country’s troops hailed from Southern states, 56% of continental troops were stationed in the South, and over 40% of military contracts went to companies based in the South or carrying out operations there.

“Clearly, the military’s impact on the South hasn’t changed over the last few years,” said Kromm, who was also an author of the 2002 study.

The 2005 report also notes the impact of military base closures and realignments announced this past May. Although the Pentagon proposal recommended closing or trimming over 300 bases and a net cutting of 26,000 military and civilian personnel, the Institute’s analysis found that the South stands to gain a net total of 15,500 positions at over 50 bases that would grow in stature under the plan – a huge shift of base strength southward. The Base Realignment and Closure Commission is now weighing the Pentagon’s proposal and is slated to make final decisions by September 8, 2005.

The Institute for Southern Studies is a non-profit research and education center based in Durham, N.C. The Institute also publishes Southern Exposure magazine, winner of the National Magazine Award, John Hancock Award for Business and Financial Reporting, and most recently the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting.

Read a copy of the full report here.

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re: Institute Report: Southerners Most Affected By War

Being from the South and living in the North, I believe all Southerners should boycott the military until we are respected as Americans nationwide. My family has fought in every War from the Rev.War to the present. Still as a people, Southerners are perceived as dumb "Hillbillies". U.S.A. needs to win a few wars without the blood of our sons and daughters. Don't you agree?