Saturday, March 12, 2011

Should Diversity in the Military Take Precedence Over Qualifications?

The Military Diversity Commission (MLDC) has issued a report saying that too many white men are in top positions in the military. So, this means that whitey must step aside for the sake of minorities regardless of the consequences, even if it costs lives because inexperienced minorities filled the uppermost ranks just because racial quotas had to be filled, all in the name of diversity.  This is ludicrous! This is pure insanity! Retired Lt. Colonel and Florida Republican Rep. Allen West is calling this  "a slap in the face” to all those minorities who have achieved seniority in the military. 

Rep. West stated: “Everyone that comes into the military has an equal opportunity to get promoted to the next level. It is not about outside entities trying to engineer and design results and outcomes or create a sense of equal achievement and when some military diversity group writes a report saying there are too many white men on top,” West said. “It is kind of a slap in the face to those who have risen through the ranks such as four star General [Lloyd] Austin, [General] Kip Ward, many others. We don’t need these outside entities trying to design or shape a military.”

From The Daily Caller:

"Ordered by Congress in the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, the report seeks to increase diversity."
“The commission’s recommendations support two overriding and related objectives: (1) that the Armed Forces systematically develop a demographically diverse leadership … and (2) that the services pursue a broader approach to diversity that includes the range of backgrounds, skill sets and personal attributes that are necessary to enhancing military performance,” the report reads.
"According to the document, 77 percent of active duty senior officers are white, 8 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 16 percent are women — something that needs to change, according to the MLDC.
“Leveraging diversity as a vital strategic military resource will require the commitment, vision, and know-how of leaders at every level,” the report continues. “Without this commitment to instill respect for diversity as a core value, the needed cultural change may not take place.”

The military's definition of diversity is this: 

Should diversity really be a priority for the military?  

In order to decipher whether the data given by the MLDC for each ethnic/racial/gender group is actually lower than average, average, or above average the data needs to be compared to the figures of each ethnic/racial/gender group and their percentage of the total population in the United States but what will determine this more so is the percentage of each ethnic/racial/gender group serving in the military.  Since the 2010 census hasn't been posted on the web yet I am relying on the statistics in the 2000 census.

According to Wikipedia: In the 2000 Census, respondents were tallied in each of the race groups they reported. Consequently, the total of each racial category exceeds the total population because some people reported more than one race. 

The above chart shows that African Americans make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population. According to this site 14 percent of African Americans serve in the military. I found the approximate percentage of Hispanics in 2009 here so I will use that number since for some reason the 2000 census didn't have Hispanics as whole as an ethnic group on the list.  The percentage of Hispanics in the U.S. is about 16 percent and the percentage of Hispanics who are in the top positions in the military is 5 percent.  According to the Army Times Hispanics constitute 13.5 percent of those serving in the military.  According to this site the number of females represented in the the total U.S. population is 50 percent.  The data here shows that about 14.5 percent people serving in Combat are women and 15.2 percent serving in the Reserves & Guard are women.  According to, women make up about 20 percent of today's military and 16 percent constitute the uppermost ranks of the military.  The number of women, Hispanics, and African-Americans serving in top ranking positions in the military doesn't seem to be that bad of a ratio but seems average when taking into account the percentage of each group serving in the military.  

The data shows that the number of African-Americans serving in the military has declined since 2000. 
"S. Douglas Smith, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky., pointed out that recruiting is down, not just for African-Americans, but for all groups. This year, the Army missed its recruiting goal by more than 6,600 new enlistees, the first time it has missed an annual recruiting target since 1999." 
"Smith said the improving economy is mostly to blame for the recruiting slump, but the war also has been a factor, he said, "and the public perception that this is a risky time to be a soldier."
"Smith said the Army has been focusing recruiting efforts more on Hispanics and Asian-Americans and other minorities in recent years. In fiscal year 2001, Hispanics made up 10.5 percent of active-duty Army recruits. In fiscal year 2005, they comprised 13.2 percent of active-duty recruits, according to Army statistics, slightly higher than their overall percentage in the U.S. population of 12.5 percent. The percentage of Asian recruits rose from 2.6 percent in fiscal year 2001 to 4.1 percent in fiscal year 2005, about on par with their percentage of the U.S. population."
"The Army appealed to blacks for decades because they saw it as one of the most integrated institutions in America, said Charles Moskos, a sociologist at Northwestern University who specializes in military affairs.
"Eventually, blacks made up one-third of all enlisted women and one-fifth of men, including many senior noncommissioned officers.
"It's been the only institution in America where whites have been routinely bossed around by blacks because many of your (non-commissioned officers) are black," Moskos said."

Experts cited these factors as to reasons why there is a decline in African-Americans serving in the military: 

-Better economic and educational opportunities.

-The high rate of incarceration among young black males. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 8.4 percent of all black males in the United States between 25 and 29 were in a state or federal prison last year, compared with 2.5 percent of Hispanics and 1.2 percent of whites in the same age group.

-An erroneous belief, dating back to the Vietnam War, that blacks and other minorities suffer a disproportionate share of combat casualties.
Statistics don't bear out those perceptions. According to independent researchers with Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks casualty statistics based on Defense Department press releases and media reports, whites have suffered 74 percent of deaths in Iraq, while blacks have suffered 10.4 percent and Hispanics 11 percent.

-Blacks have been much less supportive of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than whites and other ethnic groups, according to U.S. military surveys.
According to a report titled "U.S. Military Image Study" commissioned last year by the Army, African-Americans who viewed the military favorably decreased from 22 percent in November 2003 to 11 percent in November 2004.

Compared with other ethnic groups, African-American youths are also the least supportive of the war in Iraq, the least likely to believe that the war was justified and the most disapproving of the U.S. government's handling of foreign affairs, researchers found.
The study also found that black adults are less likely than adults in other ethnic groups to recommend military service to youths, in part because of the war.

The summary of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission's report is here.  One area the report focuses on is outreach.  I think outreach is good but I don't think that it should be limited to certain racial or ethnic groups.  One additional recommendation is to expand the pool of candidates which is a good goal but the in which they plan on doing this is to "Require the Services to review and validate their eligibility criteria for military service."   Does this mean that the military is going to be lowering the standards for acceptance?  If so, that would be highly detrimental to the military and could cost lives.  The military says that there definition acknowledges that people not only enter the military with different cultural backgrounds but also with different skills, experiences, and talents.  This statement makes perfect sense.  Then the report follows up with a sentence on working to further eliminate discrimination.  Is it discrimination to be disqualified from being promoted for a particular position if that person is lacking in the necessary skills for that position, or their talents do not match up with a certain position?  

Is it a "right" to to be admitted into the military?  I was under the impression that being accepted into the military is a privilege and not a right.  I would even say that serving in the military is even more so a privilege than attending college.  First an individual must pass the ASVAB to enter the military.  Then if an individual has a certain physical or mental disability he or she is disqualified from joining the military.  In addition, I believe the military even has certain standards on what grades you must achieve in high school to be admitted into the military.  Rep. West said that many people confuse rights with privilege and to him serving in the military is a privilege. 

Should the military pick who is best to serve in command positions or who is promoted up the line based on a proven record of success - based on merit - based an individual's abilities or should it be determined by race-based quotas just so the top brass can be a diverse group?   Would meeting diversity requirements based on race and not merit be considered racist?  Would minorities be following Martin Luther King's dream that people “would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” a vision which is also known as a "colorblind" society by demanding to be promoted using the criteria of diversity?  It seems as though Americans, specifically liberals, have strayed away from this vision - from Martin Luther King's Dream -  many believing they have a right to certain benefits based on their race.  I believe that "content of character" means based on merit and on an individual's qualifications and not having a person's skin color play a part in whether an individual is promoted or not. 

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