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Immediate Release

Secretary Mark T. Esper Message to the Force on DOD Diversity and Inclusiveness

Today, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper released a video address to members of the Department on diversity and inclusiveness. In his address, Secretary Esper announced three initiatives to build a better U.S. military that pursues equal opportunity and aspires to true meritocracy.

“I recently shared with you my pride in being a member of an institution – the United States military – that embraces diversity and inclusion, and rejects hate, bigotry, and unlawful discrimination in all forms,” said Secretary Esper. “More often than not, we have led on these issues. However, we are not immune to the forces of bias and prejudice – whether visible or invisible, conscious or unconscious. We know this bias burdens many of our Service members, and has direct and indirect impact on the experiences of our minority members, the cultural and ethnic diversity of the force, and representation in our officer ranks. These things have no place in our military; they have no place in our country.”

These three initiatives are: 1) standing up a new, internal “Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion in the Military,” which will conduct a 6-month sprint to develop concrete, actionable recommendations to increase racial diversity and ensure equal opportunity across all ranks - especially in the officer corps; 2) begin the process of standing up a “Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Services” an external body that will mirror the well-regarded and successful Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services that will provide long-term and sustainable guidance to the Department’s leadership on these issues; and 3) directed the civilian and uniformed leadership of the Pentagon to immediately present actionable ideas that the department can begin implementing now.

Secretary Esper’s full video message can be found here. The transcript can be found here.

You can read the memo from the Secretary of Defense to the force about improving diversity and inclusion here.