Major General Clifford L. Stanley

Dr. Clifford L. Stanley was sworn in as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness on February 16, 2010 and resigned the following year. He was the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense on recruitment, career development, pay and benefits for 1.4 million active duty military personnel, 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel, 680,000 DoD civilians, and is responsible for overseeing the overall state of military readiness. A key issue that Dr. Stanley had to deal with is the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the armed services.

Stanley, a retired United States Marine Corps infantry officer, served 33 years in uniform, retiring as a Major General.  General Stanley was the first African American to command a regiment. His last position was as the Deputy Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia. Additionally, he served as the Marine Corps Principal Representative to the Joint Requirements Board which supported the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in carrying out his responsibilities. 

Throughout his career, both in and out of the military, Dr. Stanley has helped men and women exceed their expectations while building cohesive teams dedicated to high achievement and selfless service. Dr. Stanley has a proven track record of being a visionary and inspirational leader dedicated to diversity, families, and a true sense of taking care of others.

One of only  four African-American General Officers in the United States Marine Corps, Major General Clifford L. Stanley was the Director of Public Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. General Stanley was the Corps' information chief and served as the principal advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps on Public Affairs. General Stanley was responsible for helping devise policy matters related to public understanding and support of the Marine Corps. He also had the task of coordinating public affairs programs and activities with a Corps-wide impact in conjunction with the Asst. Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and the Navy's Chief of Information. 

Major General Clifford L. Stanley maintained a secondary military occupational specialty of parachutist while previously serving in many command positions domestically and abroad. Numerous personal decorations have been awarded to him including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, Navy Commendation Medal, and Navy Achievement Medal. 

Dr. Stanley is a graduate of South Carolina State University. He received his Master of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University, graduating with honors. His formal military education includes Amphibious Warfare School, the Naval War College, Honor Graduate of Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and National War College. Dr. Stanley earned his Doctorate Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and holds Doctor of Laws degrees from South Carolina State University and Spalding University.       

Clifford Stanley is married and his wife was the victim of a racial attack which left her paralyzed. A turning point in Stanley's life, he considered leaving the military, but was encouraged by both his wife and the marines to keep going. General Stanley was asked about racism and responded saying "Racism is there and you hurt to see it, because that doesn't fit with any moral code that I could ever identify with. I've dealt with it on a personal level practically. In the Marine Corps we do have a thing called rank so it just doesn't fit. Our Corps as an institution has core values of courage, honor and commitment. So this whole notion of racism really doesn't fit. We don't have a smooth road, but the commitment of the institution's leadership is there to stamp it out." 

Click on the links below for detailed information and photos on African American veterans who rose to the top of their field

Revolutionary & Civil War

The Revolutionary War set precedents for black military service. Both Africans and African Americans fought on both sides of this war, often as a means for a black slave to win his freedom.

World War I

When World War I broke out, there were four all-black regiments: the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry.

World War II

African Americans made up over one million of the more than 16 million U.S. men and women to serve in World War II. Some of these men served in infantry, artillery, and tank units.

Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the United States armed forces.

Vietnam War & Iraq

The Vietnam War saw the highest proportion of blacks ever to serve in an American war. During the height of the U.S. involvement blacks, who formed 11 percent of the American population, made up 12.6 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam.


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