Black Army Officers Struggle to Climb Ranks

Black Army Officers Struggle to Climb Ranks

FILE - In this July 27, 2012 file photo, Gen. Lloyd Austin speaks to reporters at Fort Riley, Kansas. The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq has killed more than 8,500 Islamic State fighters since its bombing campaign began in August and has gained the upper hand, the top general overseeing the coalition said Tuesday. Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said the Islamic State, which has controlled key parts of northern and western Iraq since last summer, is no longer capable of seizing and holding new territory. (AP Photo/John Milburn, File).
In this July 27, 2012 file photo, Gen. Lloyd Austin speaks to reporters at Fort Riley, Kansas. (AP Photo/John Milburn, File)

 

WASHINGTON (USA Today) — The Army’s 2016 class of commanders for 31 of its top combat units has one black officer, a trend that the service is seeking to reverse with limited success.

The 2016 list of commanders for Army infantry, artillery and armor combat brigades and battalions shows black officers continue to struggle to gain a foothold in the units that serve as the primary training ground for senior leaders.

Six black officers out of 82 will lead battalions, which are 800- to 1000-soldier components of brigades, according to the list, which was obtained by USA TODAY. But only one of the 31 combat brigades getting new commanders, the list shows, will have an African-American colonel in charge.

A Defense Department official reviewed the list and provided the racial breakdown on condition of anonymity, because officials were not authorized to comment publicly.

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