sunny.png
Monday April 19th, 2021 7:43AM

Pentagon memo maps out plan to expand diversity in the force

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has endorsed a new slate of initiatives to expand diversity within the ranks and reduce prejudice, calling for more aggressive efforts to recruit, retain and promote a more racially and ethnically diverse force, The Associated Press learned on Friday.

Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on Thursday signed a memo ordering the implementation of 15 broad recommendations that include a plan to crack down on participation in hate groups by service members and draft proposed changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The AP obtained a copy of the memo on Friday.

The plan, however, skirts the more politically sensitive issues that have roiled the nation and the Trump administration this year, such as the renaming of bases that honor Confederate leaders or removing Confederate statues. Such steps are expected to get quick attention from Congress or President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration next month.

“I expect all leaders to take an aggressive approach to embed diversity and inclusion practices into the core of our military culture,” Miller said in the memo. “We must not accept — and must intentionally and proactively remove — any barriers to an inclusive and diverse force and equitable treatment of every service member.”

The recommendations were submitted by the Pentagon's Board on Diversity and Inclusion, which was created by previous Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier this year and ordered to deliver recommendations by last Tuesday. The plan was then to replace the temporary board with a permanent commission.

The memo lays out a series of goals to widen pools of applicants for enlistment as well as promotions and other leadership posts, increase ROTC opportunities for minorities, review aptitude tests to remove barriers to diversity without impairing rigorous screening and make service members and workers more aware of inclusion policies. Deadlines to complete the recommendations are spread through next year.

The Pentagon, last summer, had already taken some initial steps to limit discrimination based on race and gender. In a four-page July memo, Esper ordered all military services to stop providing service members’ photos for promotion boards, directed a review of hairstyle and grooming policies and called for improved training and data collection on diversity.

Based on 2018 data, roughly two-thirds of the military’s enlisted corps is white, and about 17% is Black, but the minority percentage declines as rank increases. The U.S. population overall is about three-quarters white and 13% Black, according to Census Bureau statistics.

And while the military prides itself on a record of taking the lead on social change, including in integration, it has had incidents of racial hatred and, more subtly, a history of implicit bias in a predominantly white institution.

Just earlier this year, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. was sworn in as the Air Force’s first Black chief of staff. And he and other senior African American officers spoke out in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, noting that Black people have long been underrepresented in the higher ranks. Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota in May sparked widespread protests and calls for racial justice.

The military's ties to Confederate generals and symbols, however, have been much more difficult to untangle.

After extensive wrangling and debate, Esper this summer issued a directive that banned the display of the Confederate flag, without mentioning the word “ban” or that specific flag. The Pentagon policy lists the types of flags that may be displayed at military installations and does not mention the Confederate banner. Acceptable flags listed in the memo include the U.S. and state banners, flags of allies and partners, the widely displayed POW/MIA flag and official military unit flags.

It was deemed a creative way to bar the Confederate flag’s display without openly contradicting or angering President Donald Trump, who has defended flying the flag as a freedom of speech issue and has flatly rejected any notion of changing base names.

Confederate flags, monuments and military base names became a national flashpoint in the weeks after Floyd's death. Protesters decrying racism targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities, and many monuments have been removed.

Ten major Army installations are named for Confederate Army officers, mostly senior generals, including Robert E. Lee. Among the 10 is Fort Benning, the namesake of Confederate Army Gen. Henry L. Benning, who was a leader of Georgia’s secessionist movement and an advocate of preserving slavery. Others are in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana. The naming was done mostly after World War I and in the 1940s, in some cases as gestures of conciliation to the South.

The military services, meanwhile, have already taken many of their own steps to battle racism and encourage diversity. The Marine Corps, for example, issued an outright ban of the Confederate flag earlier this year, and the Army eliminated photos when soldiers are being considered for promotion. The Air Force had years ago stopped providing photos for promotion boards.

An Army study showed that photos could make a difference in some promotion boards. The study suggested that when the photo is not included, it took board members less time to vote, their scores were more closely aligned and “the outcomes for minorities and women improved.”

Actions to expand acceptable hairstyles have been taken by the military services multiple times in recent years. They have all loosened restrictions, particularly on women’s hair, to allow for more ethnic hairstyles, including various braids and larger buns.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
New sheriff in NYC? No, but pandemic lifts obscurity of one
A crackdown on COVID-19 restriction violators has drawn attention to a sheriff in New York City few knew existed
10:58AM ( 1 minute ago )
US stocks slip from records as wait continues for Congress
U.S. stock indexes are slipping from their record levels Friday as the wait drags on to see if Congress can reach a deal to send more cash to struggling workers and businesses
10:34AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Jupiter, Saturn merging in night sky, closest in centuries
Jupiter and Saturn will merge in the night sky Monday, appearing closer than they have in centuries
10:32AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Shutdown deadline looms over COVID-19 relief talks
Top negotiators on a must-pass, almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package are committed to sealing an agreement in hopes of passing the legislation this weekend
9:52AM ( 1 hour ago )
Iran builds at underground nuclear facility amid US tensions
Iran has begun construction at its underground nuclear facility at Fordo amid tensions with the U.S. over its atomic program
9:27AM ( 1 hour ago )
France's Macron rides out virus, fever at Versailles retreat
Critics are calling out French President Emmanuel Macron for slip-ups in his virus-prevention behavior as he rides out a case of COVID-19 in a presidential retreat at Versailles
9:26AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
COVID-19 models plot dire scenarios for California hospitals
Gov. Gavin Newsom's dire view of California’s out-of-control surge of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths is based partly on projection models that he says are becoming alarmingly more accurate
12:06AM ( 10 hours ago )
US experts debate: Who should be next in line for vaccine?
Experts are debating who should be next in line for COVID-19 vaccines when more doses become available
12:05AM ( 10 hours ago )
Judge says strip club ruling also protects restaurants
A California judge said Thursday that all restaurants in San Diego County can resume on-site dining with safety protocols, marking a setback to the governor’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus
9:17PM ( 13 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
The Latest: VP Pence gets vaccine during White House event
Vice President Mike Pence is getting vaccinated for the coronavirus during a White House event aimed at convincing skeptical Americans the vaccines are safe
9:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
Transition stumbles test Biden's bond with Capitol Hill
President-elect Joe Biden brings more Capitol Hill experience than any president in decades
8:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Biden marks anniversary of deaths of wife, child
President-elect Joe Biden has marked the 48th anniversary of the accident that killed his first wife and baby daughter by attending Mass at the church where they're buried
8:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Stocks waver in early trading as investors wait on Congress
Stocks are wobbling between small gains and losses in early trading on Wall Street as investors try to hold on to optimism that Congress will finally deliver on a long-awaited aid package for the economy
9:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
Fiat Chrysler CEO Manley to run Americas after PSA merger
Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley will run operations in the Americas when his company merges with France’s PSA Peugeot early next year
9:14AM ( 1 hour ago )
NBC's Holt adds empathetic commentaries to news anchor role
During a tough news year with a pandemic, racial unrest and blood-sport politics, NBC's Lester Holt has concluded that telling stories isn't enough
8:36AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
US stocks slip from records as wait continues for Congress
U.S. stock indexes are slipping from their record levels Friday as the wait drags on to see if Congress can reach a deal to send more cash to struggling workers and businesses
10:34AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Jupiter, Saturn merging in night sky, closest in centuries
Jupiter and Saturn will merge in the night sky Monday, appearing closer than they have in centuries
10:32AM ( 29 minutes ago )
World court to intervene in Guyana-Venezuela border dispute
The United Nations’ highest court has ruled that it will intervene to settle a decades-old border dispute between South American neighbors Guyana and Venezuela
10:31AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Pence, wife Karen, surgeon general get COVID-19 vaccines
Vice President Mike Pence has received the coronavirus vaccine during a White House event aimed at convincing skeptical Americans that the vaccines are safe
10:17AM ( 44 minutes ago )
Stocks hold close to records as wait continues for Congress
U.S. stock indexes are holding close to their record levels Friday, as a week marked by tentative optimism for the economy’s prospects comes to a close
9:55AM ( 1 hour ago )