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Diversity, Equality Programs Strengthen America’s Military

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2007 – Defense Department policies that promote diversity and equal treatment for all servicemembers and civilians, regardless of race, have helped to make the U.S. military a force to be reckoned with, a senior DoD official said here today.

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Clarence A. Johnson, center, DoD’s principal director and director for civilian equal employment opportunity within the the department’s office of diversity management and equal opportunity, Maj. Gen. John R. Hawkins III, left, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for mobility and reserve affairs, and Joyce M. Jarrett, provost for Hampton University, listen in during the African-American History Month leadership symposium held in Newport News, Va., Feb. 22. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The U.S. military is smaller than the force that existed 15 years ago, but it’s also the most lethal military ever, Clarence A. Johnson, principal director and director for civilian equal employment opportunity within the department’s office of diversity management and equal opportunity, said at a DoD-sponsored African-American History Month symposium held at a local hotel.

"I think that is true, at least in part, because the Defense Department has put in place policies and programs to ensure that military and civilian members are treated fairly, equably and with respect, thus maximizing the production capacity of each of our members," Johnson said to senior educational leaders representing 15 historically black colleges and universities.

African-Americans traditionally have looked at military service as a way to serve their country and to get ahead, Joyce M. Jarrett, provost for Hampton University, said. And, through the years "the armed forces took the lead and convinced the nation to be inclusive," Jarrett said.

To support diversity, "we really have to lean forward," said Dr. Joseph Guzman, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for strategic diversity initiatives. While the Air Force has achieved increased diversity over the years, Guzman noted, it still needs more African-Americans to fill senior military officer and civilian leadership positions.

The Army, too, has a plethora of professional positions to offer young college graduates, Maj. Gen. John R. Hawkins III, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for mobility and reserve affairs, said. And ROTC, he noted, remains a strong program for commissioning junior officers as they graduate from a college or university.

"We want to make those opportunities available, and we will do everything in our power to make sure that you are aware of those opportunities," Hawkins told the senior education leaders.

In addition to seeking a climate of personnel diversity, the department also sponsors programs that seek out minority-owned firms to do business with DoD.

Paul Bowes, a Hampton University graduate, businessman and Vietnam-era Army veteran, attended the symposium to press his proposal for a pilot program that would have non-tactical military vehicles use non-foreign-oil sources of fuel, such as biomass products like ethanol.

"Me being here, communicating and setting up relationships with historically black colleges and universities, is part of it," Bowes said.

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