U.S. Army Worried About Lack of High-Ranking Black Officers

| by Michael Allen

There is a serious lack of high-ranking black officers in the Army, particularly in infantry, artillery battalions and brigades, say Army sociologists and officers.

USA TODAY reports that the Army found "fewer than 10% of the active-duty Army's officers are black compared with 18% of its enlisted men... 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."

Brig. Gen. Ronald Lewis, the Army's chief of public affairs, told USA TODAY, "The issue exists. The leadership is aware of it. The leadership does have an action plan in place. And it's complicated."

"It certainly is a problem for several reasons," added Col. Irving Smith, director of sociology at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "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."

One of the main reasons for the lack of high-ranking black officers is the lack of black graduates from "the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, its ROTC programs and Officer Candidate School," notes USA TODAY.

USA TODAY obtained an Army memo that states: "While black officers make up 12% of Army officers in all competitive specialties, they make up just 7% of the Army's infantry, armor and artillery officers. For junior officers, that figure is lower, 6%."

According to the Washington Times, the Army plans to emphasize recruiting and mentoring more black officers.

Sources: Washington Times, USA TODAY (Image Credit: U.S. Army)