- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Associated Press correspondent Brian Witte misses the forest for the trees (“Military academies lack minority nominees,” Nation, Sunday). He places blame for the dearth of minority candidates at the feet of lawmakers from districts with large minority populations.

Mr. Witte hits the nail on the head, however, when he writes that qualified minority students “are unaware of the opportunity, or they are not interested.” The root cause of this quandary lies in affirmative-action policies and the political correctness of the employment environment.

Our service academies have extremely high entrance standards - academic, physical and medical. A minority high school student meeting these standards is in high demand. Businesses and government agencies “shaping” their work forces to resemble the ethnic makeup of society all vie for these minority students - but can the academies compete?

The “carrot” dangled by military academies consists of a five-year service commitment after graduation, a starting salary around $45,000, near-certain long-term deployments away from home and family, and the chance of being killed by people who hate us. If opting for more lucrative career fields such as aviation or nuclear power, one can expect several more years of training and at least a four-year service commitment after completing follow-on training. The “carrot” dangled by corporate America could be a six-figure salary right out of college.

If you are an intelligent and sharp minority student in your senior year of high school, which path do you think you would you choose? The choice is fairly obvious. The only thing that might sway you toward a service academy is the desire to protect and serve your country. Unfortunately, that brand of service and patriotism is frowned upon, if not rejected, in today’s society.

As long as we have a “force” driving employers to “ethnically norm” their work forces, the academies will never be able to dangle a carrot big enough to entice a sufficient quantity of qualified candidates to sign up. Those who do sign up will be the ones who place service over salary, but they are the exception, not the norm.

PATRICK MCGINN

California, Md.

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