Army officers APYears ago I served as a mechanized infantryman in Charlie Co., 1/18 Infantry Battalion in Schweinfurt, Germany. Our company had just over 100 guys, and maybe a handful of them were black. I didn’t think about the black sergeants or our black First Lieutenant in terms of race — I just cared that they knew what the heck they were talking about and that they wouldn’t get me killed during a training exercise (like a certain white 1st Lt. almost did), or on a real deployment. Army sociologists, however, do not think like an infantryman.

USA Today reported Thursday:

The lack of black officers who lead infantry, armor and field artillery battalions and brigades — there are no black colonels at the brigade level this year — threatens the Army’s effectiveness, disconnects it from American society and deprives black officers of the principal route to top Army posts, according to officers and military sociologists. Fewer than 10% of the active-duty Army’s officers are black compared with 18% of its enlisted men, according to the Army.

The problem is most acute in its main combat units: infantry, armor and artillery. In 2014, there was not a single black colonel among those 25 brigades, the Army’s main fighting unit of about 4,000 soldiers. Brigades consist of three to four battalions of 800 to 1,000 soldiers led by lieutenant colonels. Just one of those 78 battalions is scheduled to be led by a black officer in 2015. …

“It certainly is a problem for several reasons,” says Col. Irving Smith, director of sociology at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Smith is also an African-American infantry officer who has served in Afghanistan. “First we are a public institution. And as a public institution we certainly have more of a responsibility to our nation than a private company to reflect it. In order to maintain their trust and confidence, the people of America need to know that the Army is not only effective but representative of them.”

The U.S. has an all-volunteer Army. If black people aren’t enlisting in military occupational specialties that might involve stepping on a landmine or getting shot at by snipers, then that in no way should take away from the trust the American people have in the institution.

For those who haven’t been following the exploits of the Army’s in-house race-termites, they’ve been chomping away for quite some time.

Fox News reported in Oct., 2013 on a Pentagon memo that encourages officers to “assume racism is everywhere, every day.”

A controversial 600-plus page manual used by the military to train its Equal Opportunity officers teaches that “healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian” men hold an unfair advantage over other races, and warns in great detail about a so-called “White Male Club.”

“Simply put, a healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian male receives many unearned advantages of social privilege, whereas a black, homosexual, atheist female in poor health receives many unearned disadvantages of social privilege,” reads a statement in the manual created by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI).

These people are sick, and their worldview will result in a less effective fighting force.

Col. Smith puts his finger on the real problem. USA Today’s piece continues:

Parents, pastors and coaches of young black men and women considering the Army often don’t encourage them to join the combat specialties.

“Why would you go in the infantry?” Smith says of a common question. “Why would you want to run around in the woods and jump out of airplanes, things that have no connection to private businesses? Do transportation. Do logistics. That will provide you with transferable skills.”

I can give parents, pastors and coaches countless reasons why a young man would choose to go infantry. In fact, when I enlisted, the thought of doing anything other than infantry was somewhat strange to me. I briefly considered a job as a writer (shocker), but it didn’t sit well in my mind and I signed on for infantry. Regardless, there are plenty of skills an infantryman learns during his time in service that can make him an essential member of any business.

Does this applicant demonstrate grace under pressure? Check. Does he possess the ability to improvise? Check. Does he have a “can-do” attitude? Check. Does he work well in a team? Check. All those skills can be attained by working other jobs, but I would argue that the harder the pressure, the more beautiful the diamond. Military lawyers do not shine as brightly as the U.S. Army infantryman — unless you’re watching a Hollywood movie starring a young Tom Cruise. If you believe otherwise, then you’ll have to excuse me while I laugh.

Here’s another reason to go infantry for all the armchair sociologists out there: You would die to protect the rights that most Americans take for granted. You love your country and think that it is a force for good in the world, warts and all.

If the Army can’t find more young black men who subscribe to that worldview, then it isn’t the Army’s problem — it’s America’s problem. But instead of having an honest national discussion on race and culture, we balk and tell the Army to find a way to make the numbers look good for future USA Today articles.

The U.S. Army should not be used as a petri dish for the experiments of race warriors. Unfortunately, it seems as though the same ideological men and women who took over college campuses years ago have now burrowed into influential corners of the Pentagon.

Years ago, I would have been honored to follow the black men of my company into any battle. (Sgt. Farrow, if you’re out there, I’m thinking of you in particular.) If Army sociologists want more black officers leading combat units, then they should concentrate more on the race-baiters in the media who are busy warping minority minds at a young age, and less on the officers already in leadership positions.

If you don’t believe me, then maybe it’s because you can’t handle the truth.

About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

27 comments

  1. As a former commander in RVN, your column today is absolutely right on. My experience
    in Nam was that a certain number of enlisted minorities worried about this “problem”
    because they did not want to be there anyway, so they isolated themselves into racial
    cliques. For those of us that wanted to survive our tour, no matter what the color of our
    skin, that became a real problem, just like today in our Nation. You simply can not
    have segregation in the military service at any level of the chain of command. So if
    an individual was good at the job, no one really cared what their ethnic origin was!
    May be the sociologists should worry more about job competency and less about skin
    color. Some of the best officers I served with were black and they pushed me everyday
    to be a better officer. I still remember them today and consider them my Brothers forever!

    1. Thanks for your service, Bill. And thanks for taking the time to read and share your story. I really appreciate it.

      Some of the best officers I served with were black and they pushed me everyday to be a better officer. I still remember them today and consider them my Brothers forever!

      I think your comment says it all. I was too young and stupid at the time to realize how special the relationships I formed in Germany were. There are guys from back then who I could meet today and I’m sure it would fee like no time has passed at all. We’d be able to pick up right where we left off.

  2. Liberals don’t really recognize national defense as a valid and necessary function of government. They think all conflict can be settled peacefully, with negotiation, and with aid programs to eliminate poverty in the third world. Similarly, their domestic policy assumes that if we spend more on social programs to end poverty in our own country, then crime will end.

    Consequently, they don’t think in terms of combat readiness for the military, or of effective law enforcement for the police. They see those organizations as laboratories for conducting social engineering experiments. Hence the outreach programs and arbitrary quotas. Every unit has to have X number of blacks and Y number of women, without regard for ability or qualifications.

    I was in a medical unit. The female company commander was so incompetent that even the other officers noticed it.😉 Most of the nurses were competent (the Nurse Corps has always been more than 75% female anyway, so it probably is not under the same pressure to promote unqualified women), but the black head nurse was a foul-up. We had to constantly follow her around, picking up stuff that she misplaced, including syringes and scissors. (And it was a psychiatric ward, with some patients who were suicidal.) One of the doctors flatly stated that both of those officers must have been tokens, commissioned and promoted just to fill quotas.

    There were a lot of goldbricking enlisted corpsmen, both black and white, who were constantly goofing off in the day room or the hospital snack bar (or even in restaurants off-post) when they were on duty and supposed to be working. I wouldn’t say that black soldiers were more likely to goof off, but they were more likely to get away with it, because of the race card. I could have retired before I was thirty if I had a dime for every officer or NCO who said something to the effect of, “I know Specialist Jones is a deadbeat, but I can’t discipline him. He would just yell ‘racism,’ and then it would all get twisted around, and I would be the one who ended up getting court martialed.”

    And it doesn’t help matters that most officers and NCO’s are lifers, and that a lot of them, regardless of race or sex, think that the military exists, not to defend the country, but to provide them with career development and promotion opportunities.

    I’d say, “Don’t get me started,” but it’s too late. You already have.🙂

    1. Consequently, they don’t think in terms of combat readiness for the military, or of effective law enforcement for the police. They see those organizations as laboratories for conducting social engineering experiments. Hence the outreach programs and arbitrary quotas. Every unit has to have X number of blacks and Y number of women, without regard for ability or qualifications.

      If they want to play that game with random companies in the civilian world, that’s one thing. It annoys me, but I can deal with it. But when they start messing around with jobs where lives are literally at stake, then I get riled up. They need to stay away from doctors, policemen, firemen, and military personnel.

      I’d say, “Don’t get me started,” but it’s too late. You already have.🙂

      I always like when you share your thoughts. They’re always insightful. Thanks!

    2. I think it was African-American conservative Larry Elder who recently said that where the civil rights movement went astray was when they started demanding equal outcomes instead of equal opportunity. If there aren’t “enough” black infantry members, that tells me they simply aren’t interested in doing that. It’s not, as the diversity-obsessed hucksters believe, a conspiracy designed to hold them back.

    3. The whole thing is silly because it’s a volunteer army. On top of that, they discuss West Point’s lack of black cadets as well. One problem: Most of them a.) really, really want to attend West Point long before they applied, and b.) it’s incredibly difficult to get into. You can’t just snap your fingers and have more West Point applicants. It doesn’t happen. How on earth they can address that issue is beyond me. I would not want to be tasked with that job.

    4. Good point there, too, about it being a volunteer army. You can’t just magically get into West Point, and I imagine it is quite difficult to get into it.

      I wouldn’t want to be tasked with that job, either.

    5. This kind of reminds me of the Jesse Jackson tech industry post; if collegiate African Americans aren’t going into computer science related fields in large numbers; what is the tech industry to do? If they aren’t going into infantry, what is the high command to do? The positions have to be filled.

  3. When you stop promoting based on skill and based on race/gender alone, then that’s the moment you know the military i going to fail. In other aspects of life/business/whatever, you may be able to skirt by by doing that…but not in war.

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