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. President Clinton's 1999 review of affirmative action confirmed
that these plans have succeeded in expanding representation of minorities and women,
especially as officers, while improving race relations, promoting integration, and enhancing
overall combat readiness. The Army has been characterized as "the only institution in America
in 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 highly
closed, controlled, hierarchical, disciplined system with the ability to establish, and attain
compliance with organizational goals. In addition, some specific features of Army affirmative
action efforts have contributed to their success:
(1)The pool of applicants accepted for Army service is highly selective. A senior
military 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 for
(2)Army affirmative action plans employ goals: promotion of minorities and
women within the eligible pool is to occur in the same percentages as overall promotions from
that pool. In many cases, the goals are not linked to timetables. In addition, the goals serve as
presumptions, not mandates; promotion boards that fail to meet them are deemed to have done
their job correctly if they can demonstrate due diligence.
(3)All candidates for promotion are placed in a common pool and are subject to the
same 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 pursuit
of affirmative action.
(4)The Army engages in constant training, including compensatory training,