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Equal ops? (Letters).

I WOULD LIKE TO HOPEFULLY SHED SOME light, albeit opinionated, nonscientific, and probably contentious for some, on the article in the February 2002 issue of BE titled "A Call to Arms: African Americans Underrepresented in Special Ops" [Facts & Figures, Newspoints]. I would like to begin by extending a great thank you for your publication. I am a subscriber who reads your magazine from cover to cover each month. I love it!

The article concludes by stating: "The study, however, was unable to confirm or deny whether racism was a factor." As an African American who is a trained Airborne Ranger and a 17-year military veteran still serving on active duty in the U.S. Army, I would venture to say no--racism is not an overriding factor. Let me be very clear, though, that there is no doubt in my "military mind" that some well-deserving African Americans who have sought out these types of training have been washed out simply because someone had a little too much control and took advantage of the opportunity to "eliminate another one." I will add that the attrition rate among all candidates in my Ranger class, white or black, was high. I just can't clearly say whether it was disproportionately higher for blacks than for whites.

I do, however, vividly remember two brothers who did not make it who were just as hard-charging [as I was]. One suffered an injury and never bounced back and the other was "peered." The peer system is what kills most brothers. It almost got me twice. It is simply a popularity vote among your classmates; if you're different, you're a target.

Nonetheless, only so many people are going to be allowed to be a Green Beret (Special Forces), a Ranger, a Naval SEAL, or a fighter pilot. That's why they are elite. You can't be put into Special Operations units; they are all voluntary in our current military structure, even now.

Having said all of the above, I will still be the first to say that we, for the most part, simply don't seek those tough positions/training. Some of us are the first to say, "Man, I ain't going through that. Those people are crazy. Plus, it's too dangerous." I've actually heard this as I stand there with my Ranger tab on my shoulder. We've heard about the peer system and let it beat us before we decide to beat it. So while there is merit to the fact that many African Americans aren't encouraged to join Special Ops, there is also merit to the fact that many more just don't try to excel.

Just look closer the next time you are watching war footage from Afghanistan. Although the Army is over 30% African American, how many times do we see us carrying rifles? Rarely, and that's not because the cameras are avoiding them. It is because, by and large, we don't even join the combat branches of the military, much less join Special Ops. African Americans mostly serve in combat service and combat service support branches which are further to the rear.

In closing, I must say that "I ain't a playa hater." I love my brothas and sistas. And I am not suggesting that the non-combat arms branches aren't important. Heck, we couldn't fight our wars without them. I just wish more of us would tap into our potential. It is not always racism that excludes us from various arenas. Yes, I may be a little biased. You see, it's in my blood. My father is a Vietnam era Green Beret who ultimately spent 34 years in active military service. And he wasn't the depiction of the medic in the epic John Wayne Green Beret movie. He was a Special Forces Rifleman.
Lt. Col. Krewasky A. Salter, Ph.D
Senior Brigade Air
Defense Artillery Trainer
National Training Center
Fort Irwin, California

AS A NEW BLACK ENTERPRISE READER AND soon-to-be subscriber, and as a black man and former airman in the U.S. Air Force, it did my heart good to see the figures on black underrepresentation in Special Ops in "A Call to Arms" (Facts & Figures, Newspoints).

I served 13 years in the Air Force as a security specialist, guarding priority resources, and gave my 110% daily, but I knew in my heart that I would not go to war for this country. When I joined in 1981, they gave me an Air Force pamphlet filled with information, rules and regulations, testing material, and things you needed to know about the Air Force. It wasn't until 1989 that there was even any mention of the Tuskegee Airmen and their wartime contributions.

Not everything has to be associated with racism, so I hope the reason those numbers [of blacks in Special Ops] are so low is because my fellow brothers understand the history of the government and that giving up our lives for [it] isn't the way.
Anthony McAuley
Inglewood, California
COPYRIGHT 2002 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Previous Article:Encouraged. (Letters).
Next Article:Sins of the past: activists seek reparations from U.S. government and corporations with ties to slavery. (National News).

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