Official Reaffirms DOD’s Commitment to Diversity
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2014 As the Defense Department honored African-Americans today for their service and contributions to the U.S. military, a senior DOD official reaffirmed the department’s commitment to promoting diversity.
Clarence A. Johnson, director of DOD’s diversity management and equal opportunity office, spoke before a presentation from Isaac Hampton II, a visiting scholar, during DOD’s History Speaker Series celebrating African-American History Month.
“Civil rights in America enabled our great nation to fully realize and fully capitalize on the human … potential that resides in this great tapestry called America,” he said.
Johnson said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said it best during a recent speech: “Diversity is a key to our strength in the department, and indeed, a key to the strength of our nation.”
Over the last 50 years, Johnson said, the nation and the Defense Department have benefitted from the contributions of women, minorities, persons with disabilities and the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
“[Some] predicted that the nation’s all-volunteer force would have eroded,” he said. “We’ve been at war for over a decade, but I’m happy to report that the all-volunteer force remains strong.
“I will submit to you that a high-quality force makes us stronger,” Johnson continued. “I will further submit that a high-quality diverse force makes us stronger.”
Throughout U.S. history, Johnson said, the nation has benefitted from the service of African-Americans in the national defense mission.
“These great pioneers have played a myriad of pivotal roles in the making of our country and the sustainment of our mission,” he said. “In fact, African-Americans have participated in every war that our country has faced, beginning with the Revolutionary War, where Crispus Attucks is widely considered the first casualty of the American Revolutionary War.”
Since then, Johnson said, African-Americans have demonstrated their bravery and steadfast commitment to the nation.
Johnson noted the nation is “inspired by and pays great homage to their countless sacrifices made and burdens carried to uphold the promise of freedom, equality, justice for all citizens and future generations.”
Although there has been great progress in America, Johnson said, the civil rights theme reminds the nation that work remains to be done.
“Even 50 years later, the Civil Rights Act continues to resonate today,” he said. “It is important for us all to take a stand to promote diversity and inclusiveness. It is why we are here today.”
Johnson said his office continues to work with each military service to lead the nation in building and maintaining a diverse, integrated workforce.
“We recognize that diversity goes well beyond race and gender, because we rely on diverse backgrounds, perspectives and the expertise of all our people to successfully respond to the many complex challenges of the 21st century national security landscape,” he said. “DOD is committed to removing barriers that prevent service members and civilians from rising to their highest potential. I am proud to say that African Americans make tremendous contributions in roles critical to national defense.”
(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallAFPS)