Report Worries Military Cuts Will Threaten Diversity, Says Women And People Of Color To Go First

Two women in the military. Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images.

Two women in the military. Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images.

Military cutbacks stand to reduce the number of women andminorities in the military, according to a new report produced bythe RAND Corporation.

Poor execution of Congress’s across-the-board cuts, inother words, will probably make the military whiter and more homogenous.

“Without any consideration of demographicdiversity during a drawdown, DoD runs the risk of inadvertentlyundermining diversity goals, including the goal of having amilitary force that reflects the nation it serves,â€the report notes.

While a collapse in diversity did not occur during the cuts inthe 1990s, RAND researchers want the Pentagon to make sure thatdemographic representation is not left up to chance. Past cuts havenot factored in diversity. The Pentagon should, according to thereport, examine exactly how the drawdown this time around willaffect minorities.

If strength reductions focus on nontactical positions, thenit’s clear that more women and blacks will beremoved from the force, since racial groups are not spread evenlyacross positions. White males disproportionately comprise tacticaloperations forces, whereas women and minorities mostly end up innontactical occupational specialties. The Military LeadershipDiversity Commission in 2011found that “with some exceptions, racial andethnic minorities and women are underrepresented among senornoncommissioned officers.â€

Increasing required fitness and test scores will alsodrastically limit the number of minorities in the military.

The Pentagon is not legally allowed to directly considerdemographics when making personnel drawdown decisions, but RANDoffers a few suggestions to mitigate the impact of cuts ondiversity.

The first suggestion requires the Pentagon to conduct an“impact analysis†which then willbe handed over to the Office of Diversity Management and EqualOpportunity at the Department of Defense.

RAND has a history of pumping out reports on increasingdiversity in the military. A report from 2014 found that blacks andHispanics are underrepresented in the Air Force officer corps.The report also noted that female officers have lower retentionrates compared to male officers. Researchers did not find anyevidence to suggest that women and minorities are treateddifferently than white males, and so recommended a change in eitherthe selection criteria or an increase in recruiting strategies tobring in more minorities.

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