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Mentoring and African American Army Captain Success: A Case Study
Abstract and Figures
Relationships are vitally important in all aspects of life, and especially in the Army, when sometimes life or death decisions are required. Mentoring is a developmental relationship where experiences are shared between two people, one with greater experience and one with lesser experience, based on mutual trust and respect. The purpose of this qualitative explanatory case study was to explain mentoring and African American Army Captain success. The impacts are well beyond the primary problem under investigation, of subpar promotion rates to Major for minority and female officers. A systemic problem spanning over the last 40+ years, and what may contribute to the diversity imbalance at senior Army officer levels, requires a holistic performance improvement strategy. Through conducting surveys, in-depth semi-structured interviews, and reviewing previous studies, the views of African American Army Captains and Majors as mentees, and all Army Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels as mentors were gathered. The perspectives identified several themes requiring recognition before executing an Army mentoring strategy. One pattern that led to a theme was that mentoring occurs in the Army, but not through the Army Mentoring Program, because few officers are registered, use, or know of the program. Those patterns were parallel to three other patterns that indicated: lost mentoring time for junior officers, only 1-5 mentee experiences in an Army career, and an ardent desire for mentoring relationships. Based on the research findings, patterns identified, and themes developed, mentoring may have greater impact on African American Army Captain success and promotion potential when initiated at the onset of an officer’s career.
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