CIA, FBI, and Government Documents

Government Periodicals

Featured Highlights >> CIA, FBI, and Government Documents >> Government Periodicals
Search Tips

Brooks, General Harry W. "General Brooks Speaks Out: Equal Opportunity Chief Discusses Army Programs." Commander's Digest. Vol. 13, no. 4. Washington, D.C.: GPO, November 30, 1972. P. 6-7.

SuDoc No.: D2.15/2

Brigadier General Harry W. Brooks Jr., Army Director of Equal Opportunity Programs, and an African-American, gave some of his views on racial relations in the armed forces in this excerpt from a speech delivered at an Army Race Relations Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia.


General Brooks Speaks Out: Equal Opportunity Chief Discusses Army Programs

Source: Brooks, General Harry W. "General Brooks Speaks Out: Equal Opportunity Chief Discusses Army Programs." Commander's Digest. Vol. 13, no. 4. Washington, D.C.: GPO, November 30, 1972. P. 6-7. The keynote address at a recent Army Race Relations Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia, was delivered by Brigadier General Harry W. Brooks Jr., Army Director of Equal Opportunity Programs.

"The war against discrimination, bigotry, and racial disharmony will not be won in the Pentagon," he said; it will be won through "the involvement and commitment of leaders in field."

During his address General Brooks discussed problems, progress, current race relations and environment, and the strategy to be employed to improve the Army's Race Relations/Equal Opportunity (RR/EO) posture. Following are excerpts from his remarks:


While this conference will center on major Race Relations/Equal Opportunity problems and proposed solutions, it is appropriate to maintain perspective by reviewing some of the positive steps and achievements which already have been accomplished.

In discussing these achievements, it should be noted that they apply primarily to Equal Opportunity, and impact only indirectly on the level of racial tensions at unit level – which points out the complementary nature of these two factors. Race Relations must be addressed as a separate and distinct problem.

Some Notable Achievements

  • Race Relations Education. The Army's Race Relations Education Program is a three-pronged effort consisting of training conducted in basic combat training, Service school establishments, and in unit training programs and race relations orientation for the Army's leadership. Since its inception, the Army race relations training program has exposed over 800,000 personnel to race relations training in the Service schools and basic combat training.

  • Army Woman Power. Another high priority effort has been the expanded utilization of women in the Army. To mention but a few of the major actions, the percentage of enlisted occupations open to women was expanded from approximately 40 percent to 90 percent... The WAC officer advance course and the WAC NCO course have been eliminated... and women are being integrated into the male course system.

  • Higher Grades, Key Positions and Service Schools. The percentage of minority officers in command positions has increased... Two of the Army's [17?] divisions are commanded by minority officers... There are approximately [111?] minority group officers assigned to the Army staff, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and within the the Offices of the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense... a significant change from the less than ten assigned to these career-enhanced positions just six years ago.

    It is important to note that the Army Race Relations/Equal Opportunity Program does not at any point advocate the placement or retention of unqualified personnel in any position. Indeed, such action would be detrimental to the program and to the mission accomplishment of the Army.
Serious Problems to be Solved

Despite these gains, a current assessment of the Army's Race Relations/Equal Opportunity environment reveal clearly uneven progress, Army-wide, in the resolution of Race Relations/Equal Opportunity problems. The following areas are of particular concern.

Racial tension continues to have the potential to erode the Army's capabilities to perform its primary mission. The Army chain of command is inconsistent in its ability to administer racial problems, a factor which emphasizes our need for leadership education and training.

Perception discrepancies and faulty communications across racial lines remain principal obstacles to an improved racial environment... Some leaders do not see the need for intensive RR/EO management. Many minority soldiers perceive discrimination in promotions, assignments and military justice. And finally, many majority soldiers perceive preferential treatment being given to minority soldiers. These situations have been appropriately summarized as "the worst of all worlds."

Other problems include continued personal discrimination against minority soldiers in the United States and overseas, under-utilization of minority personnel within many occupational areas, a lack of viable compliance monitoring procedures and of publicizing Army RR/EO objectives and achievements, a need to improve the administration of military justice, and inadequate commitment of resources at unit level to manage RR/EO activities.

Principles Leaders Should Know

As with any other complex problem requirement, the resolution of Army race relations and equal opportunity problems calls for an overall strategy with principles and an appropriate organizational structure.

The Department of the Army has developed a set of principles which form the basis for the Race Relations/Equal Opportunity Programs. These principles will be incorporated in the new Army Regulation 600-21 and will be taught in the Army school system. It is considered that all leaders should be able to articulate these principles as a means of achieving Army-wide clarification of our Race Relations/Equal Opportunity Program intent. The principles are:

  • The primary goal of all Army race relations and equal opportunity actions is the positive creation of an atmosphere of racial harmony; it is not the simple avoidance of racial disorders. In this regard, unit programs should be based on a positive award type of orientation rather than a negative or sanction orientation.

  • Army commanders at all levels are responsible for achievement of race relations and equal opportunity objectives. The chain of command must continue to be emphasized as the primary and preferred channel for correcting discriminatory practices and for communicating on racial matters. This principle in no way detracts from the utilization of enlisted or NCO or similar councils as a means of providing participatory communications.

  • Army RR/EO activities are based on affirmative actions which go beyond non-discrimination to planned and positive steps to identify and to correct existing discrepancies and inequities as a matter of the highest priority.

  • An essential condition for the Army to accomplish its primary mission of national defense is the preservation of a high state of discipline and good order. The quality of discipline cannot be compromised in a drive toward social programs.

  • The most constructive approach to reducing racial tensions is the promotion of supportive relationships between soldier subgroups and the Army. Consistent with this principle, it is clearly in the Army's interest to support the soldier's legitimate drive for individual and cultural pride.

  • Effective implementation of the Army RR/EO Program requires high level policy formulation, decentralized execution, maximum participation by all levels of command, and compliance monitoring procedures.

  • Based on the assumption that dysfunctional race relations behavior can be changed, the primary emphasis of Army race relations education and training is on the changing of behavior and the creation of an improved appreciation of individuals and groups as human beings. It is fully expected that changes in attitude will also follow from a well-planned and executed race relations training plan.

  • Army standards for career development must be maintained to levels commensurate with the mission requirements of the Army. Establishment of dual standards or lower standards for minority Service personnel output is undesirable. This principle does not detract from actions to provide supplementary training or education which minorities may require to meet established standards.
A New Urgency

In summary, we are moving ahead and we have a platform of achievements to build on, especially as relates to minority equal opportunity. Our efforts must be intensified, especially concerning race relations and equal opportunity for soldiers of Spanish origin, women, and other minorities.

The Army, with its myriad cultural and social backgrounds, is facing anew urgency to resolve problems in race relations. Neither the Army nor the Nation can afford continued under-utilization of minority soldiers. And certainly we cannot long endure combat units with a significant number of hostile or alienated soldiers.

The call to affirmative action is not new. Indeed, it was articulated in an executive order by President Kennedy 11 years ago and re-affirmed by subsequent Chief Executives.

But clearly all the rhetoric and printed words won't make the program work. In the Pentagon positive programs are being implemented. But the war against discrimination, bigotry and racial disharmony will not be won in the Pentagon.

If we are to succeed, it will be because of the involvement and commitment of leaders in the field who understand the relationship between problem resolution and mission capability, and who use the traditional management expertise of the Army to solve the problems. And if we fail, the burden of failure will be clearly on the shoulders of those directly charged with leading American soldiers.

You can be assured that our soldiers and the Nation will be watching how well we succeed in our efforts to work out our differences.

Return to list

Send feedback or questions to
Kief Schladweiler
Librarian, NYC

Free Speech Online Blue Ribbon Campaign