The Making Of An Army Of One In Response To Our Military's Racial Animosity, The Armed Forces Implemented Affirmative Action Plans During The 1970s.

1475 words - 6 pages

The Making of An Army of OneIn response to our military's racial animosity, the armed forces implemented affirmativeaction plans during the 1970s. President Clinton's 1999 review of affirmative action confirmedthat these plans have succeeded in expanding representation of minorities and women,especially as officers, while improving race relations, promoting integration, and enhancingoverall combat readiness. The Army has been characterized as "the only institution in Americain which whites are routinely bossed around by blacks" (Moskos 1). How has the Army achieved these results? Many analysts have emphasized its special institutional characteristics as a highlyclosed, controlled, hierarchical, disciplined system with the ability to establish, and attaincompliance with organizational goals. In addition, some specific features of Army affirmativeaction efforts have contributed to their success:(1)The pool of applicants accepted for Army service is highly selective. A seniormilitary officer shared "it's harder to get into the All-Volunteer Forces than into most colleges."Further contributing to quality is the fact that the Army has become the career of choice formany African-Americans.(2)Army affirmative action plans employ goals: promotion of minorities andwomen within the eligible pool is to occur in the same percentages as overall promotions fromthat pool. In many cases, the goals are not linked to timetables. In addition, the goals serve aspresumptions, not mandates; promotion boards that fail to meet them are deemed to have donetheir job correctly if they can demonstrate due diligence.(3)All candidates for promotion are placed in a common pool and are subject to thesame standards. Race can serve as a factor, but only when other differences are very small.Promotion is based on well-established performance criteria which are not abandoned in pursuitof affirmative action.(4)The Army engages in constant training, including compensatory training, before aswell as after admission to the All-Volunteer Forces, to enable the highest possible percentage ofindividuals to meet high standards. While outreach efforts are not racially exclusive, some are"racially-conscious." New recruits who are diagnosed as having particular weak spots areprovided numerous opportunities to remedy them.Significant Military Initiatives (Overall):Let's now take a look at the Army in comparison to its fellow military services. Becauseminorities are overrepresented in the enlisted ranks and underrepresented in the officer corps, themilitary has recently focused on the officer "pipeline." The services employ a number of tools:(1)Goals & Timetables: The Navy and the Marine Corps, historically less successfulthan the other services in this arena, have responded by setting explicit goals to increase minorityrepresentation in the officer corps. Both services seek to ensure that, in terms of race andethnicity, officers commissioned in the year 2002 roughly reflect the overall...

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