Across the Air Force, diversity necessary for mission success

Air Force releases finalized Diversity & Inclusion implementation plans. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Air Force releases finalized Diversity & Inclusion implementation plans. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

On December 3, 2015, former Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, announced that beginning in January 2016, all military occupations, including combat-specific roles, would be open to women. 

“They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Carter said. “They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force (pararescue), and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

Since 2015, the Air Force has launched a series of initiatives designed to continue promoting diversity and inclusion. Among these new initiatives were efforts to raise the bar for geographically separated military spouses, lengthen the early separation decision window for female Airmen having children, establish diverse slates for key military developmental positions, increase civilian opportunities for participation in professional development programs, and better market career fields to female and minority populations that still remain underrepresented.

"Recruiting and retaining diverse Airmen cultivates innovation,” said Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force. “Like different aircraft and missions make up one Air Tasking Order, different people make the best teams when integrated purposefully together."

Diversity is about strengthening our force and ensuring our long-term viability to support our mission to Fly, Fight, and Win…in Air, Space, and Cyberspace.  Diversity, in short, is a military necessity.

Air Force personnel who work in a diverse environment learn to maximize individual strengths and to combine individual abilities and perspectives for the good of the mission.

Air Force diversity includes but is not limited to: personal life experiences, geographic background, socioeconomic background, cultural knowledge, educational background, work background, language abilities, physical abilities, philosophical/spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity, and gender.

The Air Force, like other federal agencies still remains underrepresented in two key areas: Hispanic employment and Individuals with Disabilities (IwDs).

“The Air Force has expanded its recruiting footprint to include non-traditional areas of recruitment, “said Duane Keys, Pacific Air Forces chief of diversity & equal opportunity program.

“Some of these focus areas include universities and organizations that have a higher Hispanic population,” added Keys.

In his position at PACAF, Keys role is to increase the diversity footprint through awareness and training. “I work alongside representatives from both the military and civilian communities, in order to build a solid foundation for the program,” said Keys.

In order to increase the diversity footprint at each installation, a representative will be chosen to ensure that the necessary training and teamwork required for a successful diversity program are in place.  This individual will report directly to the PACAF chief of staff.  

“As we grow the program, diversity will take care of itself,” noted Keys. “Inclusion is the most important aspect in my opinion and as long as we allow inclusion, we will continue to grow.” 

A fact sheet on all the Diversity and Inclusion initiatives is available here.