Saturday, October 04, 2008

Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard, had two Black classmates when he started at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Neither graduated with him in 1971.

My class was as nondiverse as it could ever be, and you only run the risk of losing more people” through natural attrition as the years pass, said Allen. He who spoke during a visit to the Academy for Homecoming Weekend 2008 on 3 October.

Now, Allen said, the service is “dominated by old, white males.”

”I think there are a lot of people who want to be inclusive, a lot of senior people, they just don't know how,” he said. “And a lot of that is a generational thing.”

So Allen asked junior and mid-grade officers about what was preventing the Coast Guard from becoming more diverse. He is now pushing several initiatives, based on their suggestions, to help the Coast Guard recruit and retain diverse personnel.

Allen called his solutions “quick hitters” designed to help immediately and to be followed by more changes.

Of the approximately 41,000 people serving on active duty in the Coast Guard, 26.1 percent are minorities, including 19.7 percent minority officers and 27.8 percent minority enlisted personnel. The number of minorities in the cadet corps has hovered around 13 to 14 percent.

Allen called the numbers “too low” and said that Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented at the academy. He has asked every Coast Guard senior leader to develop a relationship with a university that has a high percentage of minorities, and with its faculty, students and leadership. In turn the Coast Guard leaders will share information about the service.

Allen is focusing on recruiting programs in areas that have diverse populations and is starting a mentoring program at a Baltimore high school. He is also mandating that junior officers see and then sign their evaluation reports for better feedback on their performance. He plans to make career counselors more available to help more officers set career goals and track their progress.

Some minority officers are “falling through the cracks,” Allen said, because their commanding officers have so many other things to do besides career counseling.

”It's a real challenge in some units where we don't have a lot of minorities,” he said. “They can feel excluded if the commands don't make them feel included.”

Senior leaders will soon be required to attend a course on diversity so they will better understand the issues of minorities entering the Coast Guard.

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., has suggested changing the admissions process at the academy as a way to diversify the cadet corps. The Academy has traditionally admitted students on the basis of academic merit, like civilian colleges, but Cummings would like to bring the application process in line with the other service academies, which admit students by congressional nomination. He added a provision to do so in the Coast Guard Authorization Act, which has passed in the House but is stalled in the Senate.

Allen said he agrees with Cummings about the need to diversify the cadet corps, but worries that requiring a nomination would be a “barrier to entry.”

Allen said many people are still wondering whether the changes will be permanent and whether more will come.

”I think they think this has been a significant step of good faith on the part of the Coast Guard, but they have every right to ask as we move forward, 'Are we going to continue to do this, and will it yield results?' “ he said.

When asked whether it would, Allen said, “We hope it will, yes.”

”Actually, it goes beyond hope,” he said. “I think we must.”



Blogger ichbinalj said...

It is very impressive and also deceptive to claim that the Coast Guard has 26.1 per cent minorities on active duty out of a force of 41,000. If white women are defined as a minority then those numbers would be attainable. As Bill Clinton said, "It depends on your definition of 'is'".
Liars can figure, but figures don't lie.
If the Coast Guard would publish their definition of a minority, the figures would take on a new meaning.
The present statistics are nothing but smoke and mirrors.

4:12 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that the current population of the U.S. breaks down as follows: Non-Hispanic whites - 68%, Hispanics - 15%, Blacks - 12%, Asians - 5%. If the U.S.C.G.A. jumps on the "Diversity" bandwagon and purposely judges applicants "by the color of their skin" first and "by the content of their character" second (that's my take on what Admiral Allen is saying), then the Academy is engaging in social engineering of the most dangerous sort. I think it's wonderful to see young men and women of all races deservedly attain the status, honor and honor that appointment to a service academy bestows on them. But to skew the acceptance process to bolster the numbers of any one racial group is wrong, and again, it's a dumbing down process that amounts to social engineering.

9:46 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

There is something wrong with this picture. Two years ago Thad Allen could have cared less that a Black graduating senior cadet was being court-martialed, the first in history. Nor did it matter to him that the Black cadet, Webster Smith, was the son of a Black Academy graduate, who was one of my personal recruits. He was one of the 28 Black cadets that I had recruited to help make the Academy more diverse.
When Admiral Allen was interviewed at the Academy two years he had not even taken the time to get briefed on the Webster Smith case. Yet, he felt cavalier enough to say that the military justice system had worked properly, and he was satisfied with the results.
Even last year after hangman's nooses started popping up all over the CGC Eagle and the Academy, he had to have his arm twisted to go to the Academy to make a speech about it.
He oversaw three investigations into who placed the nooses and did not come up with a single suspect.
And now he is on the stump giving speeches about him two Black classmates who never graduated, and whom he probably cannot call by name.
Admiral Allen doesn't know what happened to them. His speech writers have never felt the need to have him mention them until now.
What has changed? Is CHANGE in the air? Is it CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN?
Is the Commander-in-Chief about to be changed? Could he possibly be a man of diverse background? Is the handwriting on the wall?

12:37 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Webster Smith said:
The Coast Guard Academy has done much to boost minority recruitment, by excluding white males from an all-encompassing statistical category and calling it "minorities." In a older post for the Coast Guard Report, I wrote:
In the CGA class of 2011, an academy officer has reported a population of “four Black cadets at most.” In the United States of America, African-Americans constitute 12.7% of the population according to the 2000 Census. The average class of cadets reporting to CGA for indoctrination is consistently 300+. Can you imagine 38 Black cadets in one class? It is likely that there are less than 30 Black cadets in the entire cadet population, amassing a whopping 3% of the nation’s prospective Coast Guard Academy-bred officer corps.
Cleon Smith and Edward Richards were a part of the 1974 class, recruited by retired CMDR, London Steverson.

My father, Cleon Smith, was in a celebratory mood during his 30th Reunion. He and Edward Richards are one of the few. His appreciation for the Coast Guard is manufactured for an event like this, every five years. He will go back again and again, but not because he has stock in his brief source of reunion pride. He gave up on the Coast Guard in 1987. Mr. Richards gave up on the Coast Guard long before him. For the class of 1978, only ADM Manson Brown remains.

2:58 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

African-American said:
I am very disappointed today. The Cadets of our school were the subject of 3 noose incidents in the press and I don't think the Coast Guard resolved who placed them.I tried to go to the Coast Guard Civil Rights website and yes it was down. This is the link simple fact that Admiral Allen blogging, playing on My Space and Face Book while his own Civil Rights website is down is bothersome. Admiral please use your talents to fix this website instead of playing on the internet.Also, I had to hunt for probably a half hour to find the Civil Rights office on the site. I feel this office is important and should have a direct link from your homepage.
African American

3:03 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Thomas Jackson said:
Of the approximately 41,000 people serving on active duty in the Coast Guard, 26.1 percent are minorities ... which is right, this number or the number in Admiral Allen's posture statement of around 16 percent active duty?
Thomas JacksonVA Beach

3:05 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Betsy from Salem said:
I have no problem with any organization reflecting the percentage of racial distribution in the general population, if requirements are met. To push for higher than that, or to lower tough but attainable standards to accomplish that is tantamount to stating that minorities are not as smart or accomplished than non-minorities and need lower standards.And let's not forget the other side of that coin- when minority enlistment in the military goes higher than current percentage of the population, minorities cry discrimination again- they are being sent to war at higher rate than non-minorities. A sort of minority-draft. Affirmative action is a joke.

3:07 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

cgminority said:
Well Admiral You can start by removing the entire recruiting command and bringing back all those minority recruiters that were removed the past 2 years since the current CO arrived. His minority views are skewed, and his policies for recruiting and for CSPI need some further investigation. Also stop including white females in your minority numbers, White females are the MAJORITY of the population in the USA.
eden, nc

3:09 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Peter Stinson said:
Race is an issue we Americans perhaps think much about, but we don't discuss it, at least openly. I appreciate Webster Smith's start at engaging the conversation, or, perhaps, continuing it from the conversation already ongoing but not receiving much "air time" until ADM Thad Allen's recent comments published in the New London Day.

As to the comments as to whether this is either an appropriate topic for this blog, or whether it is appropriate for Mr. Smith to use this blog as a bully pulpit... I'm the publisher, and I invited Mr. Smith to contribute to this blog because of his unique perspective on the Service. His legal case remains ongoing, and he has served the time to which he was sentenced. More importantly for me, he is bright, articulate, and presents a view that is different from mine. I don't agree with everything he (or anyone else here) writes, but I do agree that given the First Amendment, we're all entitled to speak our mind.

As I've noted before, the blogosphere is a big place, and I encourage other passionate people to lift their voices. Start your own blog. Join this one. Actively and civilly comment and participate in the conversation.

The conversation, at least as I see it framed, is really about making the Coast Guard inclusive, representative, and diverse. I would go so far as to say that race is not the be-all and end-all of diversity; it is, however, along with gender, probably the first thing we notice about people; race, gender, and ethnicity are just three indicators of diversity, and certainly not the full palate. The literature about organizational success is clear however: organizations with a diverse workforce fare better than those with homogeneous workforces. The conversation has to start, and I can't think of a better place for the conversation to start than right here, where Mr. Smith can post under his own name, and everyone else can comment anonymously or pseudonymously.

We certainly all don't need to agree with each other, but we do, I believe, need to begin to at least see where others are coming from. And, some of that is hearing ideas contrary to our own, perhaps coming from someone is is contrary to our own ideals.

4:17 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Webster Smith said:
While CAAF is deciding whether or not to address the constitutional issues in my case, I remain faithful that they will hear the case and deliberate on it, objectively. I have seen God move mountains, in my life. I have prayed for many things but nothing moreso than vindication. Not because I want to win something but because I want to be something. I am a couple of things right now: a father, a husband, and the resident hyper-active geek at a Houston Law Firm. I know that I don’t write about any of this much but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t on my mind–nearly every second of every day.

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the 60s-80s when we talked about "managing diversity", we really meant race and gender. Sadly, we still find ourselves well short of optimizing either or both of those elements. Both the enlightened intellectual and the practical project leaders of today see huge value in making certain his or her team is composed of members who bring not only gender and racial diversity but also a wide spectrum of skills and capabilities to the table. We want variations in expertise and age and MATURITY and ideas and CULRURE and any other factors of consequence that could help get the project done well. For too long we have celebrated what we had in common. That's OK, but the fault lies in pretending that we have everything in common. WE SURELY DO NOT and the better leader knows that and acts on that knowledge.

9:46 PM  

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