Report Says Too Many Whites, Men Leading Military

Pauline Jelinek, WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.), March 7, 2011

The U.S. military is too white and too male at the top and needs to change recruiting and promotion policies and lift its ban on women in combat, an independent report for Congress said Monday.

Seventy-seven percent of senior officers in the active-duty military are white, while only 8 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 16 percent are women, the report by an independent panel said, quoting data from September 2008.

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The report ordered by Congress in 2009 calls for greater diversity in the military’s leadership so it will better reflect the racial, ethnic and gender mix in the armed forces and in American society.

Efforts over the years to develop a more equal opportunity military have increased the number of women and racial and ethnic minorities in the ranks of leadership. But, the report said, “despite undeniable successes . . . the armed forces have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as diverse as the nation they serve.”

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Having military brass that better mirrors the nation can inspire future recruits and help create trust among the general population, the commission said.

Among recommendations is that the military eliminate policies that exclude women from combat units, phasing in additional career fields and units that they can be assigned to as long as they are qualified. {snip}

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Stretching the definition of diversity, the report also said the military must harness people with a greater range of skills and backgrounds in, for instance, cyber systems, languages and cultural knowledge to be able to operate in an era of new threats and to collaborate with international partners and others.

[The report “From Representation to Inclusion: Diversity Leadership for the 21st-Century Military” can be read here.]

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