Let’s start by explaining what the “Rooney Rule” is for those who may not be familiar with it. The Rooney Rule is named after Dan Rooney who owns the NFL team Pittsburgh Steelers. This rule, which is now mandatory in the NFL, requires team owners to interview minority candidates for high-level jobs such as head coach. The Pentagon is now thinking about using an offshoot of this rule to help diversify the officer corps of all services. Not everyone is happy with this plan.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has received the proposal and is currently taking it under consideration. He would have to approve it to move it along. Under the proposal, Navy, Army, and Marine Corps officials would be required to consider minority candidates for all key jobs that often lead to higher ranks. These jobs would include such slots as aide-de-camp or high-level assistants who work with senior officers – the thought being that many of those who manage to get these slots often have a better chance of being promoted to higher ranks such as full colonel or general.
The proposal was drafted by Brad Carson, who was, until recently, the top civilian at the Pentagon who worked on personnel issues. He believes that this proposal addresses ways for the military to reduce gaps that exist in senior level leadership slots. To date, military services have tried in the past to address this issue, but have not had much success and there are gaps which cannot be denied.
Some examples: During 2015, it was reported that the Air Force had 280 generals; of that number, only 18 were classified as minorities. The US military has an estimated 1 million troops (2015) with a breakdown of: 69% white, 17% black and 4% Asian, according to the Pentagon. The Army’s breakdown is: 58% white, 21% black, 13% Hispanic, 4% Asian and 3% responding “other.” The Navy SEALs have 753 officers; 8 of those are black.
Why is this important?
In virtually all branches of service, for an officer to get to a point where he or she will be considered for a top level promotion, that officer would need to have led a combat unit (battalion or brigade) successfully. USA Today has reported that there is a total on one (1) black officer who is currently in place to command a combat brigade (there are 31 combat brigades total).
Another issue: the vast majority of those who are selected for senior level promotions come from front-line combat backgrounds. It is a fact that minority officers are underrepresented in these combat slots. The proposal that Carter is looking at would, in effect, allow for more minority officers to be considered for top jobs regardless of their combat experience or their background in commanding combat troops at the battalion or brigade level (as noted above).
Ash Carter is no stranger to diversity. This year he approved actions that will allow women to serve in combat units, and is currently considering removing the ban to enlistment on transgenders. Diversity, according to Carter, is essential if the military wants to attract potential troops who will have the skills for a future military.
Even so, many of those who are now serving (civilian and military) are not happy with the new proposal. Some are worried that the new rules (if put into place) will lead to court cases based on discrimination. The Navy, for instance, wants very tight controls placed within the proposal that would help prevent future litigation.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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