The integration of the armed forces of the United States following World War II was among the most significant success stories of reaching affirmative action goals. However, in recent years there has been a noticeable decline in the number of top ranking officers who are of African American backgrounds. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., believes minorities are less inclined to pursue the long road to promotion than other people resulting in more leaving the service to enter the private sector. Two weeks ago, members of the Black Caucus went to the Pentagon expecting to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff only to discover they were meeting with assistants to the top leaders. The Congressmen left in anger. Apparently, there had been a miscommunication which was finally resolved this week with meeting members of the Joint Chiefs.
Congressional Black Caucus members are attempting to walk the thin line between appearing to force promotions and ensuring that promotions meet affirmative action guidelines. They are urging creation of mentors to assist young black American officers in obtaining promotions. They also are urging a faster track to higher ranks in order to persuade members of the military to remain rather than seek private sector jobs. An important issue being raised is whether the entire promotion process requires extensive review in light of current conditions.