Posted on December 31, 2023

Air Force Academy Privately Fretted the End of Race-Based Admissions Would Hamstring ‘Diversity’ Goals

Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller, December 27, 2023

The Air Force Academy’s top official worried the Supreme Court’s decision that race-based admissions were unconstitutional would set back the service’s “warfighting imperative” of building a racially diverse military {snip}

On June 30, 2023, Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Air Force Academy’s superintendent, wrote a preview of the consequences that the Supreme Court’s decision striking down affirmative action could have for service academies’ abilities to judge candidates on the basis of race, according to emails the DCNF obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Although the justices did not overtly apply the decision to military schools, the records show how the Air Force Academy scrambled to minimize the impact of the June 29 decision on racial diversity goals.

“If we lose our limited window to reshape the racial diversity of each incoming class, it would affect our ability to meet the warfighting imperative of fielding a diverse, inclusive force,” Clark wrote.


Clark noted that the Air Force Academy itself has limited discretion over the composition of each year’s incoming class. Congressional appointments, when U.S. senators and representatives nominate young members of their constituencies for attendance, determine more than half of entrants, with another 25% or so allotted to athletic recruitment.

After that, the academy is only able to “shape” the remaining 10% to 20% of officer candidates, Clark said. The academy could consider a variety of factors, including their potential to become pilots — for which the Air Force is experiencing a severe shortage — socio-economic status, gender and race.


Two candidates presenting similar overall qualifications might be judged based on those factors, he wrote, allowing for the possibility that a candidate’s race could be the determining factor. He noted that the Air Force Academy has outperformed other services in terms of racial and ethnic diversity.

“These factors are used to design a class of diverse backgrounds in accordance with [the Department of the Air Force’s] broad definition of diversity and operational needs,” Clark wrote. “As such, not being able to consider race in a holistic review would further hinder DAF diversity, moreso than civilian universities.”


Chief Justice John Roberts punted the question of whether the Supreme Court’s ruling on race-based admissions should apply to service academies to a later date, noting that the military may have “potentially distinct” reasons related to national security for considering race as a factor in admissions.

Following the court’s decision, Students for Fair Admissions sued the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy at Annapolis to prove their race-based admissions policies are discriminatory. {snip}