Accession Number:



Victory at All Costs: Case Studies in US Army Race Relations and African American Propensity to Serve

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Since the founding of the United States, African Americans have participated in every American conflict and at times served at disproportionate rates than other demographics. During the Korean War and All-Volunteer Force AVF, black enlistments soared. Consequently, the US Army received the crucial means to accomplish strategic aims. While numerous historians have chronicled African American service, research tends to overlook the intrinsic factors that influenced their determination to join the US Army. This monograph examines the underlying factors that drove African American recruitment during the Korean War and the AVF periods of 1973 to 1987. Analyzing African American propensity to serve during the Korean War and AVF is essential for two reasons. First, African Americans persistently volunteered despite experiencing inequities. The US Army remained segregated until the 1950s, yet African Americans still demonstrated their willingness to serve. Secondly, during the Korean War and AVF, the strategic environment pressured the US Army to expand in size to fight large-scale ground combat operations. African Americans who served provided the vital means for the US Army to posture for large-scale ground combat. This monograph determined that three motives drove African American enrollments, which included a yearning for improved citizenship, improved economic status, and individualism. Examining African American service against the backdrop of social imbalances provides a useful case study that informs the US Army how it can incentivize disparate groups to enlist. As the future remains ominous, the Army can garner the lessons learned from African American service and apply them when necessary.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]