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