Thursday, August 13, 2009

Troops on the ground and a STEM Study

We hear a lot about Afghanistan ... and GEN McChrystal is developing a new strategy and might ask for more troops. We thought it might be useful to point out how many are there now ... and from which countries. According to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), there are presently 64,500 allied troops in Afghanistan ... with the US providing 29,950 -- less than half of the total. There are 42 nations which are providing troops. The nations with the largest number of troops are:

UK -- 9,000
Germany -- 4,050
France -- 3,160
Canada -- 2,800
Italy -- 2,795
Poland -- 2,000
Netherlands -- 1,770
Australia -- 1,090
Romania -- 1,025

It is important to note that the United State Air Force has 5800 Airmen on the ground in Afghanistan - more than any other country except for the UK. Plus the Air Force has thousands supporting the effort at AF Space Command, flying RPAs from Nevada, flying missions from Diego Garcia, flying tanker missions from the Gulf, and supporting the operation with lift on an hourly basis.

Additionally, a significant task is to train the Afghan National Army. Presently, there are 91,000 trained out of an authorized strength of 134,000. You can find more details about this data at:

Secondly, we had an Executive Committee meeting this past weekend and among the discussion topics was the state of STEM Education [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] in the US today. One expert on the subject opined that US citizens received less than 50% of all STEM PhDs in this country. That prompted me to do a bit of research ... and the "opiner" is not too far off. The seminal study in this area is done by University of Chicago ... and is based on data from 2005-2006 year. The entire document is over 19 Megs ... so I cut it and put the one page executive summary ... plus all the tables and graphs mentioned in the Executive Summary ... into one document on our website ( A few observations:

56% of all science and engineering doctorates were awarded to US citizens -- however, only 32 % of engineering doctorates went to US citizens
Of those non-US citizens who earned doctorates, China (4,774) had the most; India second (1,742); then S. Korea (1,648); Taiwan (718); Canada (561)
51% of all research doctorates awarded to US citizens went to women
54% of those who graduated with employment ... planned to teach in universities
The point of above is we are approaching the time when we will be short of STEM graduates in this country. The aerospace industry is especially affected ... as one -- repeat one -- single aerospace company told me they hire over 5% of all undergraduate engineers the nation produces. It is also important to notice where the bulk of the non-citizen doctorates will reside in the future ... Nuff said.

Finally, the AF Memorial Foundation had produced a limited edition holiday ornament - that was selling fast. The Foundation also has a range of holiday cards. We plan to have a different ornament and card - both featuring the Air Force Memorial -- every year. We will offer past years' ornaments until we run out and every year we plan to add to the holiday card selection that features the Air Force Memorial. You can find information on our website at:


Don Perkins said...

An additional byproduct of lesser numbers of U.S. graduating engineers; fewer security-clearance eligible engineers for both the government and private sectors. Net effect could be higher costs in salaries for a shrinking pool of engineers positioned to work on leading edge technology in the classified realm.

Harvey Bennett said...

Amazing statistics. I wish the media would publish this.
Thank you.
Harvey Bennett, president
Gold Coast Chapter 351

Bill Sox said...

Todays paper indicates that there are 62,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan with an additional 6,000 to be sent soon. Which figure is correct 29,950 or 62,000??
Bill Sachse, Spokane, WA

Bill T. said...

On the subject of not enough US engineers:

My father was an engineer and among other things he worked on the A-20 light bomber in WWII and C-54 of Berlin Airlift fame. I followed in his footsteps and worked on the DC-8, DC-10 aircraft, Maverick missile and many satellites for 30 years. Then I was laid off in 1992 and could only find work as a real estate agent.

My two sons saw this and couldn't be talked into going into engineering. One, who came out of the Air Force with a tech background in EW, is pre-med. The other is also going into healthcare which is nearly 20% of the GDP. They want the stability of a healthcare job vs. the instability of an engineering job.

In my opinion, the reason we don't have a lot of young Americans going into engineering is job instability. It's not like being able to count on working 20 years in the Air Force.

What is the solution? I don't have one. But I do think that job instability for engineers is a big negative. As a country, we have to realize that we have a big problem and generate some creative solutions.

WhiteCloud said...

You know a lot of old timers who enginered and built this country want to have their children followsuit in their footsteps like Jerry Shuler wanted his son to follow his in the Chrystal Cathedrali in Orange County, California. You know when I got out of the miltary I wanted to continue in the health care field as an EMT with maybe the fire department, but in order to get my full VA benefit's for school I had to take at least 12 untis per semester so I took up Construction Trades as my major.Well I couldn't even hold a hammer with out bending a nail, but I kept at it and even after getting in a little trouble with the police at the Cal-Jam concert I went back to school and finshed the course.Well the Fire Department had plenty of Firemen most of those from minorities and other under priviledged groups who handled most of the certification for LA County in Los Angeles like was the VA for Long Beach in Compton. So with a record I didn't go very far witht the city. So I was told to go to the Carpenter's Union Hall and apply for apprentiship,but most contractor's had sons and family that came first so there went that.I tried to work for an old lady my old land lord,but her family didn't like that.So I took what ever I could get at 5 bucks an hour and the Illegal Immigrant workers didn't like that.Well I should be retired and living the life of Riley,but everyone else don't like that as well as I can't even get back in the military as officer in charge of LATRINES as you would think no one likes that job, but here I am blogging. So my advise to you old ACE's like the ealy day's of Aviation, Engineering,and building an Air Force that your Forefather's first used glass jars filled with nails,gas,and a little gun powder to make the first bomb, and shooting at each other with your pistol was like Knight's jousting in battle and is why as airmen the German Lufewafe separated US from the rest of the combatant's in their stalags as did the Russian's in their Gulag's, as the kids and the rest of world do not care at least the generals' do as who will be our hero's when our own treats us a enemies......