Equal Opportunity in the Army

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Tech CommunicationRobert 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. INTRODUCTION
II. THE ARMY’S EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PROGRAM
A. Historical Background
B. Concept
C. 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...
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