Equal Opportunity in the Army

Published: 2021-07-17 02:20:06
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Snyder Research Paper Equal Opportunity in the Army Propelled by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to counteract a national policy of segregation and inequality, the Department of Defense (DoD) mandated race relations training in 1971. The violent and nonviolent disorders of the late 1960s were the catalyst that convinced military leaders that race relations education must be provided to every member of the Armed Forces. An inter-service task force examined the causes and possible cures of these racial disorders within the military.
The task force, chaired by Air Force Major General Lucius Theus, resulted in Department of Defense Directive 1322. 11. This directive established the Race Relations Education Board and in 1971, created the Defense Race Relations Institute (DRRI), the original name for DEOMI. Today the education and training programs in human relations, equal opportunity, equal employment opportunity, and diversity remain the foundation in the building of leadership. Since its inception in 1971, the Department of Defense has enhanced mission readiness by fostering positive human relations throughout the DoD. I.
Principles of the Program III. LEADER INVOLVEMENT A. Leader Commitment B. Unit Leaders EO Responsibilities C. NCO Support Channel IV. ASSESSMENTS A. Purpose of Assessments B. Assessment Strategies V. STAFFING A. Equal Opportunity Representative (EOR) B. Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA) VI. CONCLUSION The basic purpose of the United States Army is to fight and win our nation’s wars. Fundamentally, it is accomplished through the presence of soldiers on the ground in distant places, demonstrating military capability and commitment.
Clearly, our strength to accomplish its mission rests with its soldiers. What impacts soldiers impacts combat effectiveness. One such factor is the human relations environment in which our soldiers live and work. The Army subscribes to a human relations environment based on dignity and respect. Dignity and respect are bedrock values of both the Army and the nation and encompasses more than the traditional military courtesies that leaders and soldiers observe in deference to rank and position. When soldiers are treated with dignity and respect by leaders and their peers, a strong bond develops between them.
This bond is founded on mutual trust and serves to cement unit cohesion and to build esprit de corps. When this commitment to treating one another with dignity and respect falters, we risk destroying that which we must hold most precious—the indomitable, warfighting spirit of our soldiers. The Army’s EO Program was born in response to violent confrontations that erupted between racial and ethnic groups at posts and installations in the Continental United States and at overseas locations in 1969 and 1970.
Many believed that these violent eruptions were in response to earlier race riots that had taken place in almost every major city across the country. After numerous reports, task force studies, and soldier surveys, the one issue that permeated all findings was the actual or perceived issue of discrimination. Soldiers’ morale was at an all time low, and a significant failure of communication existed across racial lines. These issues seriously jeopardized mission effectiveness and adversely undermined the Army’s combat readiness.
The earliest attempt to institutionalize EO in the Army probably began with President Truman’s Executive Order to desegregate the services in 1948. However, the 22 years that followed saw no significant, deliberate, well-conceived plan or program to check systemic discrimination and other forms of unequal treatment. Since 1970, the Army has been engaged in a program designed to ensure and improve combat readiness through an effective EO program. Today, many of our military leaders believe that this program has had a far-reaching impact on the Army’s culture, a culture that serves as a role model for the rest of the nation.
The situation in today’s Army is clearly much different from what existed years ago. Many changes have occurred, moving the Army’s EO program from a strictly educational and training initiative to a multifaceted management program with clear goals and objectives. These goals and objectives are also an integral part of human relations and are nurtured and developed through a professional military education system. The concept of the EO program is to formulate, direct, and sustain a comprehensive effort to maximize human potential.
It strives to ensure fair treatment of all soldiers is based solely on merit, fitness, capability, and potential in support of readiness. EO philosophy is based on fairness, justice, and equity. It places the responsibility for sustaining a positive EO climate within a unit on its commander. The U. S. Army will provide EO and fair treatment for military personnel and family members without regard to race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, and provide an environment free of unlawful discrimination and offensive behavior.
The assignment and utilization of female soldiers are the only exceptions to our non-biased personnel management process. AR 600-13, Army Policy for the Assignment of Female Soldiers, prescribes policies, procedures, responsibilities, and the position coding system for female soldiers. For any program to be effective, it must be based on certain principles. The Army’s EO Program has five basic principles. These principles are: Commanders and leaders are responsible for unit EO. Each commander and leader is responsible for the EO program.
Not only must you comply with the EO Program, but you must also ensure that your soldiers or civilian employees know what the policy is and what is expected from them. Enforcing compliance of the policies is one of responsibilities that accompany leadership. Commanders and leaders must promote harmony; do not merely avoid disorder. All leaders need to promote the harmony of their subordinates, not just correcting their deficiencies. Use reasonable and consistent standards for everyone. Commanders and leaders must support individual and cultural diversity.
Regardless of your own background, military and DA civilian personnel must be aware of, and show respect for, religious, cultural, and gender differences of other personnel. Everyone must learn about others and understand how some preconceived and unwarranted prejudices must be overcome. Everyone must be capable of living and/or working in a common environment within the Army. Related EO elements are subject areas that can, and often do, included actions that are usually based on discrimination or prejudicial behaviors.
While not directly linked to EO, when individuals take in appropriate action in these areas, it often results in discrimination that is based on the cornerstones of the EO program, race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. The EO Model consists of seven basic building blocks. The seven building blocks are Leader Involvement, Training, Assessments, Staffing, Complaint Processing, Affirmative Actions, and Ethnic and Special Observances. Each building block has specific actions that commanders should follow in establishing an effective EO program.
While these actions will not guarantee or eliminate all EO problems, they are positive actions that will assist the commander in establishing a healthy and positive EO climate. EO is a command program and to make the program effective, commanders and other leaders must be committed in taking a positive and proactive approach in carrying out their EO duties and responsibilities. Leader commitment and involvement are the cornerstones and the key to a successful unit EO program. Without dedicated and involved leaders, no program has a chance to be successful.
An effective EO program begins with command support and strong leader commitment at all levels. The most effective leadership method in ensuring soldiers and subordinate leaders understand, comply with, and enforce the goals and objectives of the Army’s EO Program, is to lead by example. Leaders set the tone for the unit and if unfair treatment, double standards, or if there is a perceived lack of concern, soldiers will quickly lose the trust and confidence in leaders. Such a negative view is counterproductive to the objectives of EO, unit cohesion, and combat readiness.
It is also indicative of a serious communications problem between leaders and the led. A leader needs to be sensitive to the possibility that their soldier’s experiences may be very different from their own experiences. An integral part of unit leadership and is therefore a responsibility of all leaders in the unit. To make the program effective, the unit commander along with other unit leaders have a responsibility to take a positive, proactive approach in implementing a dynamic EO program. The unit chain of command is designed to help the commander achieve primary goals and objectives to successfully accomplish the unit’s assigned mission.
The command channel extends both upward and downward for transmittal of orders and other official communications between senior and subordinate personnel. To be effective, commanders must subdivide EO responsibility and authority to subordinate leaders and staff members. In this way, a proper degree of EO responsibility becomes inherent with each member of the chain of command. It is critical to the Army’s EO Program that unit commanders train their soldiers and junior leaders on the importance and function of this relationship. The NCO support channel parallels and complements the unit chain of command.
The NCO support channel represents a line of communication and supervision from the battalion Command Sergeant Major to the unit first sergeant and then to other NCOs and enlisted personnel of the unit. The scope of EO responsibilities and the authority to execute assigned EO tasks are defined by the commander. The support and commitment of the NCO support channel is essential for implementing and maintaining a viable EO program. NCOs must care and soldiers must know they care. NCOs must enforce the standards, comply with all policies and programs, and ensure subordinates are prepared to accept and execute a mission at a moment’s notice.
To implement and maintain a viable EO program, commanders at all levels are required to monitor and assess the execution of EO policies and responsibilities throughout their command. Commanders at all levels are held responsible and accountable for the EO climate within their units. As such, it is essential for you to realize what is happening in your units. It is equally essential that you know what your soldiers perceive the EO climate to be. Only by trying to assess what the soldiers believe the EO climate to be, will you be able to be proactive to correct problems.
Assessments will also reveal to the command how soldiers perceive the leadership in the unit. Knowing the EO climate will allow you to make changes before they become serious issues. It is usually easier to head off problems before they occur, than it is to resolve problems after they have happened. The nature of EO for leaders and soldiers in any given organization is often measured by perceptions of fairness. Thus, information gathered from climate assessments may not always be accurate or specific in any one-problem area.
However, climate assessments, if administered correctly, will provide commanders with certain indicators and trends to focus future actions and intervention strategies. Commanders who have an accurate awareness of the perceptions and views of their soldiers possess a definite leadership advantage. The purpose of climate assessments is to provide the leadership a “snapshot picture” of a unit as it is perceived by members of the organization as it relates to race, gender, color, religion, national origin, and sexual harassment. In short, it determines if a unit’s climate is both positive and healthy.
A climate that is not healthy can quickly develop into intergroup tension within the unit. To assist commanders, DA and the Army Research Institute (ARI), has identified certain common conditions that are indicators of an EO climate that is not healthy. During the planning phase of a climate assessment, the commander and other leaders should have an idea about specific strategies to follow during the assessment process. These strategies should not be established as hard fast rules, but should serve more as a guide throughout the assessment process.
A key component of the Army’s EO Program is an effective and responsive complaint system. The current EO complaint processing system addresses complaints that allege unlawful discrimination or unfair treatment on the basis of race, national origin, color, gender, religion, or sexual harassment. The Army’s EO compliant system concept is intended to afford the maximum protection for soldiers by providing a means for them to bring a complaint to the Army, and have full confidence the Army will investigate and where appropriate, make an appropriate response to resolve the compliant.
Many soldiers say they will not submit an EO complaint because they perceive the chain of command as not caring, or not willing to correct the problem. As commanders and leaders, you need to change that perception. You must ensure that everyone, those with complaints and those who have complaints made against them, will be treated fairly, and that no one will have to fear any form of reprisal actions against them if they submit an EO complaint. The concept must also ensure that all complaints will be heard and considered by the chain of command.
To emphasize the importance of the EO complaint process, AR 600-20, Army Command Policy, now requires a summary of each formal EO complaint be reported to the General Courts-Martial Convening (GCM) Authority. There are two types of complaints a soldier may file in the Army’s EO channel: Informal Complaints and Formal Complaints. In addition to these, soldiers may also utilize any of the agencies referred to as “Alternative Agencies” as an avenue to file EO related complaints.
The success of the unit EO program is also dependent on having trained resources at all levels to assist commanders and key leaders in carrying out the Army’s EO polices and procedures. To be effective, commanders and other unit leaders need to be knowledgeable of EO staffing requirements and of the duties and responsibilities of EO trained resources. Equal Opportunity Representatives (EORs) assists commanders at battalion level or equivalent and below in carrying out the EO program within their units. An EOR is tasked to perform EO duties as an additional duty.
In addition, the unit EOR assumes a special relationship with the chain of command and the NCO support channel. Soldiers who are appointed as unit EORs receive training on a variety of EO subjects, and can advise and assist unit leaders in carrying out their EO responsibilities. All units are required to have a minimum of one EOR per company. Commanders must appoint EORs in their units who are members of the command members of the chain of command in the rank of SSG through lieutenant. EO Advisors (EOAs) are assigned to fulltime EO duty positions at brigade or higher echelons.
EOAs are proponents for cultural change and act as the eyes and ears for the commander. EOAs will not be assigned duties that may create a conflict of interest or distract from their primary duties. Commanders who require EOA support, but do not have a full-time EOA available through their command, may request EO support from the nearest installation commander through an installation support agreement. The Army’s EO program has had a great deal of success over the past 30 years, but much remains to be done.
Ultimately, what commanders and subordinate leaders do today will determine the Army’s continued success for years to come. Today’s commander has a better historical perspective on the potential price that is paid when issues of discrimination or sexual harassment are not swiftly addressed and dealt with. Thom, S. (2013, April 14). Conduct at issue as military officers’ face a new review. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www. nytimes. com/2013/04/14/us/militarys-top-officers-face-review-of-their-character. html? _r=1& Bowman, T. (2013, March 25). As qualified

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