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Why Black Officers Still Fail

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Research paper

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Over the past two decades U.S. War College students have written several papers touching on the experiences of black officers as they relate to representation, promotions, influence, and culture. Interestingly, only Remo Butlers paper 1996, which was one of the first to be written, has received any widespread attention. Butler found that Black officers are falling behind their white counterparts in promotions at and above the rank of lieutenant colonel at a disconcerting rate. Specifically, Remo Butler suggested that Black officers were failing in two areas 1 promotion to the ranks of lieutenant colonel and higher, and 2 selection for battalion and brigade command. This paper is an extension of Butlers paper in that it seeks to determine what, if anything, has changed in the 14 years since Butler published his paper in 1996, using Butlers original research methods. The authors working hypothesis for the paper is that little has changed and that African Americans are still failing in todays Army. The findings overall suggest that today Black officers are getting promoted to the ranks of lieutenant colonel and colonel at higher levels than in 1996. Furthermore, Blacks are being selected for both battalion and brigade levels command at higher rates than 1996. However, Blacks are stilling failing to rise to the strategic decision making levels of the Army. In trying to come to grips with this, the author has found that there are some limitations to this paper. The first is that this study does not employ a rigorous methodological approach to understanding senior officer perceptions. Instead it relies on anecdotal evidence, like Butlers thesis, to support the contentions herein. Also, like Butlers paper, this paper takes a myopic black-white approach to understanding why black officers fail. The growth of the Asian and Hispanic officer populations have to be factored into the equation.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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