Friday, July 25, 2008

Diversity in the military: a balanced view

Must give credit where credit is due. The WaPo has a very balanced work on the situation of minority officers in the military. As you know, I beat up the Diversity Bullies any chance I get, mostly for their simple, mindless, stale, Rm. 222 psychobabble that makes no sense to anyone outside the Grievance Dept. of the University of Your Choice. I also don't care for their thinly veiled insinuation that the dearth, in some places, of minority officers in the higher ranks of the military is due to some institutional racism or rampant racism in the officer corps as a whole that won't promote minorities; a world view about 180 deg off from reality.

Via the AP's Lolita C. Baldor, we have one of the rare MSM bits that I would be willing to give to someone as a "Ref. A" to understanding the numbers the Diversity Bullies hand out like talismans.

Though I could quibble with some of the items in the article, I won't Instead, you should review her summary, the rest of the story if you will, that goes the majority of the way towards explaining why in many places, the military does not "look like America."
Blacks make up about 17 percent of the total force, yet just 9 percent of all officers. That fraction falls to less than 6 percent for general officers with one to four stars, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Associated Press.
Only one of the 38 four-star generals or admirals serving as of May was black. And just 10 black men have ever gained four-star rank _ five in the Army, four in the Air Force and one in the Navy, according to the Pentagon.
The Army has led the way with black officers, with nearly double the percentage at times over the past three decades as the other services. Blacks represented 11 percent to 12 percent of all Army officers during that time, compared with 4 percent to 8 percent in the Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The reasons for the lack of blacks in the higher ranks are many and complex, ranging from simple career choices to Congress and family recommendations. Most often mentioned is that black recruits are showing less interest in pursuing combat jobs, which are more likely to propel them through the officer ranks.

"Kids I've spoken to, who choose to do supply, who choose to do lawyer, who choose to do admin, have the impression that 'If I go to Army and become an infantry person, that is not a skill that I can carry to the civilian work force,'" said Clarence Johnson, director of the Pentagon's Office of Diversity Management.
I wouldn't wish that job on anyone.
...young black officers choose other fields because "they want to prepare for a future outside of the military, and they believe that being in communications, being in logistics will provide them a better opportunity to succeed."

In 1998, nearly a quarter of all active duty black officers were in various combat fields. As of this month, that had fallen to 20 percent, compared with nearly 40 percent for non-blacks, according to Pentagon data.

This year, roughly half of all black active duty officers gravitated toward supply, maintenance, engineering and administrative jobs _ almost double the rate of non-black officers.

"That tells me, honestly, over the years the pipeline for those blacks going to general officer is not going to be markedly improved above what it is now," Johnson said.

He said he hears recruits say, "I'm joining this ROTC thing, so that when I get out in four years or eight years, whatever time frame it is, I want a skill I can use."
Another stumbling block is getting more members of minority groups into the military academies.

While white cadets often come from families steeped in military history, black students may not have that long line of ancestral officers.

A review of congressional nominations to the military academies shows that black and Hispanic lawmakers often recommend fewer students.

The fewest appointments to the academies came from Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who forwarded just three names for the classes of 2009-2012. Two other members of Congress _ Massachusetts Democrat Michael Capuano and New York Democrat Jose Serrano_ sent up five names.

According to Pentagon data, the number of lawmakers who failed to nominate at least one candidate to each academy increased from 24 in 2005 to 38 this year. Of the 75 lawmakers overall who did not nominate someone to each academy in all four years, 40 were either black or Hispanic.
Compared with the corporate world, the military appears to provide a bit more high-level opportunities. As of late 2007, just five of the Fortune 500 companies were headed by black chief executives _ or just 1 percent.
Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, the percentage of blacks coming into the Army has plunged from 22 percent to 13 percent. Also, the percentage of blacks in military overall has dipped in the past 10 years, from more than 20 percent to 17 percent today.

The decline has come in part because family members and other adults who influence young people have become less likely to recommend military service.
Summary: the problem does not come from the military - if it is a problem at all.

Buck Sergeant over at MilBlogs has a slightly different take on it. A take BTW that I don't disagree with on the whole - it is just that there is some good news here in that some of the truth of what is actually going on slipped out - and that is good. Half full.

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