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The Air Force's Black Ceiling von Thompson, Ivan (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 10.06.2016
  • Verlag: BookBaby
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The Air Force's Black Ceiling

The 'Air Force's Black Ceiling' is a view of diversity in the Air Force from one man's over 28 years in the Air Force. This view begins with his perspectives and insights as an Air Force Academy cadet and continues with his progression through company and field grade ranks. It also includes special insights gained while serving on the Secretary of Defense's Diversity Task Force as the Deputy Director of the Defense Business Practice Implementation Board. The author's view of diversity has been bolstered by face to face interviews with five former African American Air Force four-star generals and numerous current and former African American generals in the Air Force and the Army. The author's views are also influenced by numerous discussions with former graduates of the US Air Force Academy, his work with the Tuskegee Airmen chapters and his own detailed research into the biographies of former Air Force Chiefs of Staff and former Strategic, Tactical and Air Combat Command Commanders. The title might imply that the 'Black Ceiling' has been put in place on purpose by senior Air Force leaders... the reader will find out that isn't the case. The reader however will find out that there are very distinct remnants of an intricate system of exclusionary development practices, cultural practices, stereotypes and biases that have served to keep the ceiling in place for African American men throughout the Air Force's existence.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: none
    Seitenzahl: 144
    Erscheinungsdatum: 10.06.2016
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9781483571782
    Verlag: BookBaby
    Größe: 1023 kBytes
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The Air Force's Black Ceiling

INTRODUCTION What sparked this book? In 1986 I was a black graduate of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). I remember being deeply disturbed by the extremely low number of my black classmates that made it through the initial phase of pilot training, referred to as Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), or more specifically, went on to become fighter pilots. As USAFA cadets we were conditioned to believe that being a pilot was everything, which was further emphasized by a common USAFA saying: "If you ain't a fighter pilot you ain't..." I will leave you to fill in the blank. Unfortunately, very few of my black classmates were making it through (UPT). Further I didn't know anybody who made it through pilot training that got a fighter pilot assignment afterward. This poor showing in UPT-this failure phenomenon- was evident across the entire spectrum of my black classmates. It spanned the jocks, the "stract"/ultra-military guys, the militant guys, the too-cool-for-school guys, and the playboys. Now, with only 66 black people in a graduating class of 961, it wasn't hard to track their status. I noticed the same thing in the class that graduated before me and the class that graduated after me. I wasn't a pilot. I'd lost my pilot qualification, known as PQ, because of a serious back injury that occurred when I was a freshman. But for some reason though it really bothered me that so few of the black grads I knew seemed to be making it through UPT and that none of the ones that made it through were getting fighters. How was it that so many of my black pilot qualified classmates had failed to become what the Air Force Academy had conditioned us to dream of becoming-a fighter pilot? As a young Air Force officer serving on active duty, I didn't have an explanation for this phenomenon, but some of my fellow black grads had an explanation. I had heard of their disappointments firsthand or through the grapevine. Their explanation: The Air Force was racist. Plain and simple. Though the accusation is direct and believable I refused to accept that explanation, then and now. I am not naïve; I know that there are racist individuals. In fact, as a former cadet and an officer, I personally could share individual racist encounters. However I never believed that there was a systematic, institutional, pervasive effort to "wash out" black pilots. But the fact that I didn't have any other explanation whatsoever to counter that charge disturbed me even more. I was compelled to find the answers. Though I didn't realize it, the quest to find answers began as a USAFA cadet. As a cadet I researched the history of black Cadet Wing Commanders. I interviewed the one that we had while I was there. I studied how he and other senior cadets were selected. Later during my first active duty assignment at Headquarters (HQ) Air Force Communications Command I took an interest in studying the career paths of the senior officers. After six years of tracking the promotion and advancement patterns of those officers, I had become proficient at predicting who would be promoted to the Command's most senior posts based on their previous assignments. I did the same thing in a later assignment at Langley Air Force Base. My analysis had become convincingly accurate. While at Langley I told my new wing commander when he would be leaving for a new assignment. He was not amused by my determination, but I pegged it to the month. I didn't know why I was studying career paths of senior officers, but I always had a curious desire to study how leaders are picked. From my research I began to understand as a senior captain that most of the people who would reach four-star general rank in the Air Force would be fighter pilots and that anyone who was not a fighter pilot really didn't have much chance of attaining three-star rank. The Air Force's mission to "Fly Fight and Win" clearly implies that the

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