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Defense Department officials have expressed concern about the fact that officers who reach the top ranks of the military tend to come from career fields that are disproportionately occupied by whites. The relative lack of minorities in these fields has a significant impact on the diversity of the senior leadership. The authors examine the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps classification process and find that that there is a relationship between career field selection, racial/ethnic status, and membership in the senior officer corps — a connection that appears to stem, at least in part, from racial and ethnic differences in the occupational preferences of officer cadets. Because the reasons behind these preferences are still unknown, the authors urge a full-scale study of the issue.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Theoretical Determinants of Individual Career Field Decisions

  • Chapter Three

    Career Field Assignment Process: Rules and Practices

  • Chapter Four

    Career Field Assignment Process: Quantitative Analysis

  • Chapter Five

    Policy Discussion and Recommendations

  • Appendix

    Detailed Description of Classification Processes

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). This research was conducted under the auspices of the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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