The U.S. military continues to struggle with issues of prejudice and bigotry, even as 140,000 American troops wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With the most diverse group of soldiers ever sent to arms, military brass should be concerned whether racism has taken a backseat-or if it is as alive and well as ever.
“The situation for black personnel in the U.S. armed forces has not improved very much in the last decade,” says Lieutenant Colonel Joseph W. Hoffler, USAF-Ret., author of the new book Promotion: Denied – The Harrowing True Story of Racism, Cover-up, Betrayal and Vigilante Justice at the United States Air Force Academy. “And unfortunately, the military’s record of discrimination has spilled over onto other minority groups.”
In 1999, a Pentagon survey found that despite efforts to promote good race relations in the armed forces, wide gaps still remained. The survey also found that:
- Forty-seven percent of Hispanic personnel and forty-eight percent of black personnel experienced incidents that caused them to lose trust in their colleagues
- Members of minorities, especially African-Americans, tended to hold more pessimistic views of race relations in the military
- Minority service personnel felt they received poor evaluations more often than their white counterparts because of their race or ethnicity
- Thirty-eight percent of Hispanics and sixty-percent of blacks felt that the military did not pay enough attention to racial discrimination
Not surprisingly, according to U.S. Defense Department statistics, the number of black, active-duty, enlisted personnel has declined fourteen percent in five years. “We need to have a more diverse military from top to bottom,” points out Lt. Col. Hoffler.
Promotion: Denied reveals how Lt. Col. Hoffler, a former commander of the Air Force Academy’s Security Police Squadron, was the victim of a racially motivated “witch-hunt.” The book also tells the story of an unlikely duo-an older, black commander from the segregated South and his young, white captain operations officer from New York City-who came together to fight a losing battle against institutionalized racism at the academy.
Lt. Col. Hoffler served in the military for twenty-two years and was the first black squadron commander assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. He received numerous commendations, including the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, in addition to holding the highest secret security clearance.
(Promotion: Denied – The Harrowing True Story of Racism, Cover-up, Betrayal and Vigilante Justice at the United States Air Force Academy by Lt. Col. Joseph W. Hoffler, USAF-Ret.;
ISBN: B001M4HXTE, $16.95; softcover; 5½” x 8½ “; 200