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Today, new groups, including women and homosexuals, are seeking equal treatment. Colin Powell, the retired chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, is not only an African-American success story, but also a success story for the racially integrated military services.
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At once, he knew he was destined for a career in the military. Powell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army injust 10 years after racial segregation in the military had ended.
Reflecting about this exciting time in his life, Powell wrote in his book, My American Journey: I was in a profession that would allow me to go as far as my talents would take me.
And for a black, no other avenue in American society offered so much opportunity. Indeed, Powell rose through the ranks to become in the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest job in the U.
This would have been impossible when the military was mired in racial prejudice and segregation.
But the military services were forced to change their long tradition of treating the black man as a second-class soldier.
In much the same way, equal opportunities have opened for women in all branches of the armed forces. While moving slowly, and at times not at all, the military has nevertheless demonstrated that groups once unfairly branded as inferior are fully capable and deserving of equal opportunity in American society.
Can the Black Man Fight? African Americans have fought in every U.
At the outset of the Civil War, however, neither free blacks nor escaped slaves were allowed to enlist in the Union forces. The prevailing racist view among Union officers was that the black man lacked mental ability, discipline, and bravery and could never be trained to fight like the white soldier.
As the Civil War ground on and the need for manpower increased, African Americans began to be admitted into the Union Army, mainly as laborers. Large numbers of free blacks and ex-slaves were recruited for combat only after several successful experiments satisfied military leaders that black soldiers could fight in battles.
African Americans were organized in racially segregated infantry, artillery, and cavalry regiments led by white officers. After participating in over battles and winning 12 Congressional Medals of Honor, there was little doubt by the end of the war that the black man could fight and fight well.
After the war, Congress established several peacetime black Army regiments, again led by white officers.
Assigned mainly to the West, black regiments fought Indians, manned forts, escorted wagon trains, and did other hard and thankless "bad duty" that white soldiers preferred to avoid.
Experienced and battle-hardened from the Indian Wars, black soldiers saw much action in Cuba and the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Most of these men, however, ended up assigned to labor units.
One poorly trained segregated combat division did not do well in battle. White officers often pointed to it as proof that black men did not make good soldiers.
But another black division was dispersed among a number of French combat units. These American black troops, under the command of French officers, not only fought well, but participated in combat shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time with white soldiers.
A major step forward for blacks in the military took place during the war when the U. Army set up a separate war college to train black officers to lead black troops. Roosevelt 's War Department announced a new policy expanding the role of African Americans in the Army. Blacks were to make up 10 percent of enlisted men up from 2 percent and were to be admitted to officer training as well as the Army Air Corps.caninariojana.com enables the millions of Americans with military affinity to access their benefits, find jobs, enjoy military discounts, and stay connected.
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For much of its history, the U.S. military has been a testing ground for groups seeking inclusion in the mainstream of American society. Today, new groups, including women . Explore all aspects of military life whether active service member, veteran, family or just learning. Follow the news, history and pulse of military life today.
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