Burning Question

Is the military really too white and too male?

A new report suggests a dearth of diversity in the top ranks of America's armed forces. What's to be done?

Is the military doing enough to staff its top brass with women and ethnic minorities? No, says an independent report handed to Congress this week. The Military Leadership Diversity Commission found that 77 percent of senior officers are white, while only 8 percent are black, and 5 percent Hispanic. In addition, more than eight out of ten senior officers are men, and only 16 percent are women. "The armed forces have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as demographically diverse as the nation they serve," said the report. Should the military be doing more to let women and ethnic minorities rise to the top?

No. We should promote the best, not the most diverse: The military isn't a "university campus or some corporate board," says Bruce McQuain at Hot Air. Its goal is victory, not diversity. We should continue to allow the "best leaders to rise to the top," regardless of their race or gender. Saying that the U.S. military ought to mirror the nation's demographics, "regardless of their abilities or capacity to lead in combat," is simply "nonsense."  "Is military leadership 'too white and too male'?"
Too white? No. But too male? Yes: The military's top ranks are "much more ethnically diverse than those of the Fortune 500," says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. But our armed forces are "sorely lacking" in female leaders, not to mention soldiers with "technical and language skills." If the military changed its "one-size-fits-all" recruitment policy, it might attract a more diverse cadre of future leaders."Military leadership too white and male?"

We could start by accepting that women fight on the frontline: The commission recommended lifting a 1994 order excluding women from combat units, says Susan Campbell at the Hartford Courant, so they can gain the frontline experience to progress in the military. "Which leads to the question: Where has the Pentagon been?" Women have been fighting in combat zones for years, but aren't allowed to officially take credit for it. This is simply a glass ceiling issue."Women serving in combat? It's been true for years"

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