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

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Military cutbacks stand to reduce the number of women and minorities in the military, according to a new report produced by the RAND Corporation.

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

“Without any consideration of demographic diversity during a drawdown, DoD runs the risk of inadvertently undermining diversity goals, including the goal of having a military force that reflects the nation it serves,” the report notes.

While a collapse in diversity did not occur during the cuts in the 1990s, RAND researchers want the Pentagon to make sure that demographic representation is not left up to chance. Past cuts have not factored in diversity. The Pentagon should, according to the report, examine exactly how the drawdown this time around will affect minorities.

If strength reductions focus on nontactical positions, then it’s clear that more women and blacks will be removed from the force, since racial groups are not spread evenly across positions. White males disproportionately comprise tactical operations forces, whereas women and minorities mostly end up in nontactical occupational specialties. The Military Leadership Diversity Commission in 2011 found that “with some exceptions, racial and ethnic minorities and women are underrepresented among senor noncommissioned officers.”

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

The Pentagon is not legally allowed to directly consider demographics when making personnel drawdown decisions, but RAND offers a few suggestions to mitigate the impact of cuts on diversity.

The first suggestion requires the Pentagon to conduct an “impact analysis” which then will be handed over to the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity at the Department of Defense.

RAND has a history of pumping out reports on increasing diversity in the military. A report from 2014 found that blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the Air Force officer corps. The report also noted that female officers have lower retention rates compared to male officers. Researchers did not find any evidence to suggest that women and minorities are treated differently than white males, and so recommended a change in either the selection criteria or an increase in recruiting strategies to bring in more minorities.

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