racial segregation in the military paper


Since the occurrence of the world wars, ethnic minority groups have always volunteered or drafted into the wars unwillingly to fight for the United States; however there has always been racial segregation in the military until the mid-20th century (Lutz, 2008, p. 169). This segregation was influenced by the separate but equal policy used in the military and further fuelled by the fact that the military administrators did not see anything wrong with such discrimination policies then. There have been several civil rights activists who have fought hard for diversity and inclusivity in the military, which has seen several minority groups joining the military. No matter how hard these activities have made reforms to policies and statutes regarding this issue, racial segregation is still a significant issue across the nation.

Why is the fuss for diversity in the military? St Leo links diversity with respect as a core value. The military is an organization demanding extreme respect levels. Through respect of unique capabilities and traits of diverse people, military recruits learn to work and live together to ensure effectiveness of their missions. Unity through diversity is a core strategy in ensuring success of any organisation and this forms the basis for this analysis. By ensuring diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity from the demographic diversity in America, there are high chances that the military is going to attract, recruit, and retain top talents across the world. Other administrators also argue that by integrating all the ethnic groups across the country into the military, it promotes loyalty to the military and the upholding of national values since, through inclusion, the whole country is represented.

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This research paper, therefore, gives an in-depth analysis of how the US government has made efforts to ensure racial or ethnic integration in the military. Not only does it covers integration only but also diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunities in the military. This paper further outlines how this mission of integrating the military has impacted the readiness of the force


Background Information on Racial Segregation in the military

Well, it has been noted that racial segregation has been a traditional issue since the early days, through the world wars, the civil wars, and in modern military recruitment. The diversity concept has also been criticized by a large share of people. These critics believe that expansion of this diversity might affect the merit of the military base, leading to promotions and accession that put demographic targets ahead of performance standards. Some people also argue that inclusion and diversity could affect the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the military. However, recruitment into the military involves the exclusion of people based on other factors like age, fitness, and skills without ethnicity being part of it.

Definition of terms

Firstly, most people use diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity interchangeably when in the real sense, these terms mean entirely different things in the military. Well integration is the general term for both diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity. Diversity is the variation in both the invisible and visible traits among personnel in an organization. Equal opportunities refer to the just and fair treatment of people in an organization that is legal protection against discrimination. Ultimately, an inclusive organization is one that has formed policies that enable the contribution of every person, promotes respect for the individual differences, and ensures that every member has a sense of belonging to the company. By promoting equal opportunities and diversity in an organization, inclusivity just sets in without much effort.

Before going deep into how far the military has ensured racial integration, it would be best if we first understand why most organizations are craving for diversity. Several researchers have argued that diversity is very crucial in promoting multicultural society and egalitarian. For this reason, most organizations should always ensure that they promote integration, regardless of how much they are obsessed with attaining excellent merit standards. Racial integration impacts the dynamics of the group and also affect other factors that contribute to overall performance. Research in the military and civilian context has shown that integration mostly influences cohesion and effectiveness in the military. Military cohesion is the ability of each member to be committed to the group and the objectives of the team. On the other side, effectiveness is the ability of an individual to carry out a given task, accurately and timely efficiently.

Military cohesion influences the ability of personnel to cooperate and have a positive attribute towards the team. Cohesion enables the members to perform significantly under very stressful conditions. Cohesion involves many demands. It requires one to drop their self-identity and replace it with that of the group. It demands one to follow guidelines of the group in order to avoid threatening the survival of the group. Through well-built cohesion, each military personnel depends on one another in order to ensure the success of the mission and survival (Menestrel & Kizzer, 2019).

The Road to Racial Integration in the Military

Advanced efforts have been put by past US Presidents and right activists in their desire to promote racial diversity in the Department of Defence (DOD). President Harry Truman made the significant initial effort. 1946 marked a year of extreme cases of violence against minority groups across the United States. Truman issued an Executive Order to the President’s Committee on Civil Rights to formulate recommendations on how to solve this racial unrest. This commission, through Truman, came up with recommendations that advocated for complete ethnic integration into the military and banned any discrimination on color or race. the commission also insisted that any promotion done in the military was to be based on merits only. This desegregation effort also led to the formation of the Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the military through the leadership of Charles Fahy (Kamarck, 2019, p. 14). This aimed at improving racial integration in the armed forces.

The announcement of full integration in 1954 in DOD did not solve all the racial segregation in the military and other units. Minority groups were still discriminated against during recruitments. President John F Kennedy ordered the Committee on Equal Opportunity in the Armed Forces in 1962, chaired by Gerhard A. Gesell, to seek ways to improve the recommendations made through Fahy’s Commission. This commission came up with recommendations that were based on solutions to evaluate the performance of officers through their abilities and remits. These recommendations also included equal opportunities during installation and recruitments by clarifying the responsibilities of the installation commander (Kamarck, 2019, p. 16). This effort succeeded the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that illegalized discrimination based on sex, race, religion, color, or national origin. However, these efforts did not change much.

The deployment of US troops in Vietnam in 1965 caused stirred much debate on racial segregation. The blacks were disproportionately drafted and sent to Vietnam and even placed forefront in very deadly combat wars. Even though there was no substantial evidence about discrimination on the blacks, this war led to a civil right revolution, which was propelled by several rights activists. This war led to the formation of several anti-discrimination polices and even the development of the All-Volunteer Force in 1973, a move that promoted racial integration in the forces.

The Current Racial Representation in the US Military

A recent evaluation of the army has shown that the military is more diverse than it has ever been before, a factor that makes them so lethal. Much efforts are still being employed in the recruitment and retention of military personnel. The military has included all the races and aslo increased women’s representation. The current military is a representation of the whole nation even though this issue still needs ironing. Hispanics have increased their numbers from 12.5% to 14.6% in the last five years alone, while the number of females has increased from 16.6% to 18% all across the units in the country (Brading, 2019). The army today now uses an advance criterion in the recruitment process, which enhances diverse skills, talent, knowledge, and experiences.

Initiatives like “Meet Your Enemy” is now used by the military in recruiting personnel. This initiative is aimed at putting interest in regions or cities which are unfairly represented in the military like Seattle and Atlanta. This initiative also focuses on cities with diverse races like Houston and Los Angeles where they get a diverse pool of personnel. Besides, the military now takes part in educative initiatives that educate the minor groups on the opportunities available in the forces. This initiative also applies to the current college students. Retention efforts in the military have seen the invention of the AIM 2 approach; a talent movement approach meant to promote diversity by reaching out to recruits to evaluate their capabilities (Brading, 2019).

Role of Current Government in Ensuring Racial Integration.

Throughabolitionist movement by Frederick Douglas, who sensitized the black community to grab the golden opportunity in order to fight the common enemy for both the races, things have dramatically changed in modern times. Just like St Leo’s core value of respect, respect for varying talents, ideologies, abilities, skills, and color has been upheld in the military. Sinclair outlines that the future warfighting needs of the nation demand everyone, all the races, to participate to ensure the freedoms of all the Americans (Sinclair, 2018). The current government has ensured modern diversity and inclusion in the military, which is evident through the record performance by the US military in the Middle East war. Though there are challenges in ensuring racial integration among the senior positions in several military groups is still fighting for equal opportunities. Such groups include The ROCKS, AFCOMP, and NNOA.

President Trump declared February of 2018 as an official African American History month in order to appreciate the contributions of the black community in the American wars (Whitehouse, 2018). This month involves the remembrance of great black soldiers who have fought for the nation, the likes of Sergeant Henry Johnson, Pilot Benjamin O. Davis Jnr and, Major Charity Adams Earley, who in her capacity recruited several women in the military despite the racism. This move is meant to promote racial equality in the military while appreciating the black community as part of the American family.

However, there have been issues by Trump’s administration that has questioned what extent should the diversity in the military reach. In July 2017, Trump discharged over 500 immigrant recruits and reservists since he believed they posed security threats to the completion of missions abroad (Cruz, 2018). This order was based on the fact that some had families in the nations that the US had a war with while others got discharged with no substantial reason. Even though the order was overturned in 2018, the damage was beyond repair, and this saw the forces missed out on very high expertise.

The Benefits of Racial Integration in the Military

Most organizations are now obsessed with ensuring diversity in their work stations. It has been proven that diversity increases profit margins and productivity while maintaining a stronger competitive edge. Statistics show that enterprises maintaining high racial diversity levels make about 15 times more profit than those that do not embrace diversity. The military is an organization that is charged with the responsibility of protecting the nation against threats and war; for its success and effectiveness, racial integration is very critical. Chairman Lester Lyles of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission described diversity as the unique strength of the current military (Sinclair, 2017). The Department of Defense Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan referred to racial integration as a very critical approach in readiness and accomplishment of any military commission.

The question revolves around how racial integration promotes the readiness of the military. Well, diversity controls two primary components of the human aspect’ that is cohesion and effectiveness. As described earlier, cohesion is the ability for people to operate and work together. Social cohesion is the ability of the military personnel to interact and gain likeness towards each other while task cohesion is the ability of military personnel to conduct a mission bearing in mind it is for the survival of the whole group and not just oneself. Through cohesion one loses self-identity and gains the identity of the whole group. Through racial integration, people with different skills and talents are recruited into the military, therefore, offering an array of targeted skills in combating the enemy. When these varying skills are incorporated into the military, its effectiveness is significantly boosted.

The wars the nation is facing today are increasingly challenging and complex and therefore require a team of creative personnel with a broad spectrum of solutions, ideas, and perspectives (Fanning, 2016). This strategy is achieved by harnessing the varying cognitive abilities of different people who are joined by a common cause. Such diverse teams have been researched to solve complex issues compared to homogenous teams. A diverse force also makes learning from each other straightforward hence better outcomes. A diverse force enables the country to eliminate the military divide within the US soil. All these benefits promote the readiness of the army.


As outlined in the mission of St Leo, the strength of the military depends on diversity. Through the core value of respect, unity and diversity can easily be incorporated in a team. Racial integration in the military is based on the fact that one has to value the unique attributes and respect the varying skills that everyone comes with despite their race, origin, or gender. By working harmoniously in a diverse military, ideas can easily be exchanged and array of diverse solutions offered. The current military employs modern diversity in its recruitment and retention, with very minimal discrimination of gender and color. This racial integration has hugely impacted the effectiveness and readiness of the military.

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