United States Military's Efforts to Transform Essay

Pages: 7 (2355 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

¶ … United States military's efforts to transform into an organization which is integrated and desegregated with regard to African-Americans and women. It addresses the factors associated with the need or perceived need for transformation. It also addresses key forces that shaped the policies pursued in order to achieve these transformations as well as key policies enacted to affect the desired transformations. Finally, it reviews the current situation of both African-Americans and women in the military. With regard to African-Americans, it can be argued that the military has done a better job at integration than some civilian institutions; however, there remains a great deal to accomplish the same on behalf of women.

Outline

With regard to African-Americans, it can be argued that the military has done a better job at integration than some civilian institutions; however, there remains a great deal to accomplish the same on behalf of women.

A. Three key factors that led to need to integrate African-Americans

1. Need for additional manpower

2. Need to eliminate racial discrimination to form a more cohesive military

3. Demand by African-Americans

B .

Three key policies enacted to integrate African-Americans

1.

Feb. 1948 - mandate

1.a. Harry S. Truman

1.b. "desegregate as quickly as possible"

2.

July 1948- Executive Order 9981

2.a. Harry S. Truman

2.b. End racial discrimination now

C.

Leading Forces that shaped policies pursued to achieve integration of African-Americans

1. Harry S. Truman

2. American Civil Rights Movement

3. NAACP

D.

Three key factors that led to need to integrate women in the military

1. Need for additional manpower

2. Need to eliminate sexual discrimination to create cohesive military organization

3. Demand by women for equal rights

E.

Three key policies enacted to integrate women

1. Women's Armed services Integration Act-6/12/1948

1.a. allowed women to be regular permanent members

1.b. altered to disallow mothers with dependent children-1949

2. 1970's- Women now allowed to be regular military members and have dependent children

3. 1984- still necessary to recommend statement requiring equal treatment

F. Leading forces that shaped the policies pursued to achieve integration of women

1. The Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services

2. Feminist Movement

3. Senator Margaret Chase Smith and other members of Congress

G. Military has done well integrating African-American men but not as well with women

1. Better equality than some civilian organizations for African-Americans

2. Not as well for women

2.a. Full combat

2.b. Equal Rights Amendment

2.c. Tailhook

With this in mind, it would behoove the American soldier to remember that the reason he or she is fighting is precisely so that all people have the right to fight beside them regardless of skin color and gender and only their individual actions can transform the military into a completely integrated fighting machine.

Military Transformations

Introduction

"You can't fight for freedom and liberty overseas and ignore the principles of justice and opportunity at home. America's democracy just won't let you do that" (Borlik, 1998). It would be ideal if that was the sole reason for the push to desegregate the military with regard to African-Americans and women. Though there were definitely civil groups pushing for equality in the military, the underlying force seems to be clear. War requires manpower regardless of color or gender. It also requires effective military forces that work in concert with one another against a defined enemy rather than divisiveness within the military itself. Without this cohesiveness, the military would fail to be 'all that it can be'. Many policies have been pursued and enacted over the years to achieve desegregation with regard to African-Americans and women with varying degrees of success. With regard to African-Americans, it can be argued that the military has done a better job at integration than some civilian institutions; however, there remains a great deal to accomplish the same on behalf of women.

Integrating African-Americans

There were many factors playing into the need to integrate the armed forces with regard to African-Americans. African-American men have been fighting for this country even before it was a country. Fighting and giving their lives for the right to be here. Yet, they have not always been afforded the same respect and opportunities in the military that have been granted their white counterparts. It goes without saying that this is a reflection of the bias towards African-Americans as a whole in the United States in general, and not merely a situation confined to our military organizations. In fact, after the Jim Crow laws were enacted, they were granted less opportunity and respect than in earlier service to the military, being primarily relegated to support functions within segregated units. With widespread bigotry to contend with, it is commendable that the military has come as far as it has toward making it a racially equal organization with regard to African-American men.

Reasons to integrate African-Americans

Many factors contributed to the military's need to become a racially integrated organization. These factors included but were not limited to the demand by African-Americans, the need for additional manpower, and the need to eliminate discrimination in order to create cohesive fighting units.

With regard to demand by African-Americans, consider the idea that one is good enough to give one's life for this country, but not good enough to be assigned to the same unit as one's white counterpart. Further consider that one is only good enough to act in a supporting role, unless of course, it came to storming a beach or other site where death is inevitable. Further exacerbating the situation was the fact that if one was able to survive these circumstances during the war, upon return to the states, one was not afforded the same modicum of respect granted to white military personnel. It seems apparent that being treated as subordinate, essentially unarmed, and kept separate from white fighting units while still being expected to make the supreme sacrifice would definitely contribute to a non-cohesive fighting unit and disenfranchised soldiers.

Further, during World War II, facing a severe shortage in manpower, General Eisenhower made one of the first steps toward desegregation. Much to the chagrin of many white Americans, General Eisenhower decided to enhance the military strength of the United States, it was imperative to utilize African-American soldiers in full combat roles. This occurred in 1944, and was a precursor of things to come (Blumensen, 1972). Facing a shortage of manpower during the Korean war, the army began replacing lost white soldiers with African-Americans, thus, integrating once segregated fighting units. The success of this led to a reexamination of the efficiency a racially integrated military organization.

Having noted the success in both World War II and the Korean War, it became apparent that African-Americans made good soldiers and that integrated fighting units could be very successful. In fact, by eliminating racial discrimination and integrating all divisions of the military would enhance the American advantage in war by creating cohesive military units with substantially more manpower.

Domestic policies supporting racial integration

In addition to the actions already mentioned, there were several other key policies which further served to integrate the American military. In February 1948, then president, Harry S. Truman called for all armed forces to desegregate. When action wasn't being taken as quickly as he would have liked, he bypassed congress and issued Executive Order 9981 in July 1948, which ordered all military organizations to desegregate immediately. Because discrimination against African-Americans was so pervasive there was still resistance by many to comply with this executive order. In fact, many more mandates and laws were passed over the years to ensure that this Executive Order was followed. Though not specifically the intention, The Civil rights act of 1964 had a profound effect on creating equality for the African-American man in the United States military.

The driving forces behind the numerous policies designed to eliminate desegregation and compel integration were numerous and diverse. Harry S. Truman's role was significant in that he issued an Executive Order rather than put it to a Congress that was entrenched in racial inequality and would likely reject the notion of integrating the military. In addition to Truman, the NAACP lobbied for the change, as did the Congress of Racial Equality and many other organizations which fell under the much larger umbrella commonly known as the Civil Rights Movement.

As a result of all the above, the U.S. Military is now an excellent example of a racially integrated organization. All rights, opportunities, pay, and recognition are officially administered with virtually a blind eye to skin color. Many African-Americans now enlist in the military as a career choice believing that the military provides an equal environment in which to excel.

Women in the military

Like African-American men, women have had a difficult time being treated equally in the United States military. Though women have often been called upon during times of war, it was always in supporting roles and they were usually sent back to the kitchen with the end of the war. Many women had… [END OF PREVIEW]

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