Local News

Study Shows Minorities Not Optimistic About Military Advancement

Posted November 22, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— A Pentagon study, conducted in 1996-1997, found some men and women in uniform say they are not too optimistic about their chances for moving up in the military ranks.

Many also say they are not being treated fairly.

Defense leaders say the results prove more policies dealing with race relations need to be put in place.

One Fort Bragg soldier was pessimistic about possible job advancement in the military.

"I don't think we have the opportunity that most soldiers get," he said.

Major Edward Timmons, equal opportunity program manager at Fort Bragg, conducts annual surveys, focus groups, and reviews promotion records to ensure equality within the ranks.

"I think the racial climate here in Fort Bragg is good," Timmons said. "The major aspect of this is constant education."

To prevent discrimination of all kinds, Timmons' department also briefs incoming Bragg soldiers on race relations. That is followed by quarterly meetings for soldiers on the unit level.

The Pentagon study also found that three-quarters of minorities have experienced racially-offensive behavior. However, Timmons says since 1993, complaints in his office have gone down every year with just four in 1998.

Specialist Tareq Abdalla, of Egyptian descent, feels good about minority treatment in the military. He believes everyone is judged by their performance.

"It's very equal opportunity for everyone," Abdalla said. "I see everyone get promoted regardless of race."

Forty-six percent of African-Americans who took the survey said race relations had improved since five years ago, and a majority of white soldiers had a more positive perception of race relations in the armed forces.