HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

Diversity, inclusion are tools for national defense, not buzzwords

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) --

We live in a dynamically changing and increasingly complex global security environment. In order to maintain ourselves as the world’s leading Air Force, we must continue to adapt and prepare for any potential contingencies — in today’s highly competitive environment.

While present and future decisions on weapons systems, force posture and force employment will have their part to play in supporting the National Defense Strategy, so too will every member serving in the United States Air Force. It’s Airmen who drive our ability to adapt, it’s Airmen whose know-how and determination allow us to conduct warfighting, and as we push towards a more lethal and ready force, it is a diverse and inclusive force of Airmen that will help drive that end state. Diversity of thought, diversity of experience, and diversity of knowledge; will keep us competitive on the global stage.

During the time I served as Air University’s commander and president, I had the opportunity to hear a lot of interesting conversations centered on diversity and inclusion. I quickly realized a team with more than one demographic represented tends to perform better, especially when it comes to being innovative and thinking about how to accomplish objectives differently. Groups with members from varied backgrounds tend to generate more ideas and encourage each other. The corporate world has already widely recognized diversity as a necessity in their recruitment and retention, and the Air Force is following suit.

While diversity can be seen as a sensitive or even divisive topic, Air Force leadership has come to view it as a warfighting imperative. Diversity is a necessity for how we do what we do. To that end, we welcome diversity and inclusion with an open, comprehensive discussion focused on more than just gender, race or ethnicity; this conversation includes personal life experiences, geographic background, socioeconomic background, cultural knowledge, education, language abilities and physical abilities, as well as philosophical and spiritual perspectives.

This compilation of identities contribute to the new and innovative ideas that are vitally important to our success as an Air Force. Collaboration and communication across our workforce is only enriched by the sharing of ideas and experiences by Airmen of various backgrounds; this will inform change.

The question that follows is how do we achieve these ends? To that I would say, start by reinforcing the need to widen our perspective and understanding what our less represented groups need as they navigate through the journey of military service. Then, give those same individuals opportunities to perform in order to be the influencers we need. In my 35 years of active-duty service, there is one thing I know for sure — you must be able to influence to make change.

Building those influencers of tomorrow requires empowering people to respect and encourage that which makes us different. It starts by maintaining a culture of dignity, respect and inclusivity.

Although I see them as vessels, African American History Month and Women’s History Month provide timely examples of why we consider these matters. Women became a permanent part of our service in 1948 when President Harry Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, but it wasn’t until 1976 that they were permitted to attend the service academies. Minorities in the Air Force underwent their own struggle, not receiving equal treatment until after the civil rights movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s, despite the armed services being desegregated in 1948. Even then, while women and minorities had been granted equal freedom to serve, having equal opportunity to succeed and greater representation would continue to take more time, bringing us to where we are now. We remember where we’ve been, so we have a clear idea of where we still need to go.

We have evolved as a force and look far different than in the years past. In 1950 the Air Force was barely over 1% female; now 21% of the force are women. In 1975 minority representation was 12.3% African American and 1% other (we did not even track ethnicity); today, it’s nearly 15% African American, 15% Hispanic/Latino, and 4% Asian. While the makeup of the force has clearly changed, the same drive, innovation and boldness that lead to a separate air service remains, stemming now from a combination of different origins, backgrounds and religions. These figures are much more diverse than what I’ve seen before in my 35 years, both from an institutional level and as an African American officer; however, we still have a lot of work to do.

Normalizing diversity must be a priority, it should not be sensitive or divisive. In the face of an increasingly challenging global environment, it’s going to take diverse Airmen with different perspectives, to provide solutions to prevail in tomorrow’s fight. It’s going to take leaders fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion, seeing strength in differences and recognizing their own biases to ensure each Airmen reaches their full potential. The Air Force represents a diverse society of incredibly talented people, and if this talent is allowed to flourish, there is no limit to what our Airmen can do together.

Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton is the deputy commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Forces Strategic-Air, U.S. Strategic Command, located at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The command is responsible for providing strategic deterrence, global strike capability, and combat support to USSTRATCOM and other geographic combatant commands. Lt. Gen. Cotton entered the Air Force through the ROTC program in 1986 where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Prior to his current assignment, Lt. Gen. Cotton served as the commander and president of Air University, Air Education and Training Command, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

Engage

Twitter
Not a bad way to cool off in the summer. The 815th Airlift Squadron's Reserve #Airmen visited Alaska to airlift o… https://t.co/DElqEx4JwJ
Twitter
RT @USAFRecruiting: Built different 😤 These @airforcespecwar exercises will put your strength to the test and show you what muscles these…
Twitter
Another Air Force week complete, and we've got it in photos! View the rest here: https://t.co/OkjRFKvDjz https://t.co/HXcWkJN35U
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: On behalf of our #Airmen and families, congrats and welcome to Ms. Jones, our new Under Secretary of the @usairforce. #…
Twitter
Jumping into the weekend Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron pe… https://t.co/VLRxCb90mw
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Getting ready for the big leap into civilian life? #Airmen preparing to separate from active duty service can take steps towar…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary Roth on the confirmation of Gina Ortiz Jones to serve as the Under Secretary of the Air Force. ⬇️ https…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Confirmed yesterday by the Senate, Gina Ortiz Jones will be the next Under Secretary of the Air Force! Read more ⬇️ @US
Twitter
The Senate unanimously confirmed Gina Ortiz Jones to be Under Secretary of the Air Force, clearing the way for the… https://t.co/Q8SFw2fq45
Twitter
Hundreds of Airmen participated alongside @USArmy Soldiers in the inaugural Pacific Warriorz 2021 Joint and Total… https://t.co/fAPp4UGjmW
Twitter
RT @US_EUCOM: #JF21-2 is designed to test simulated emergency response procedures, ballistic missile defense & crisis response assistance i…
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Thanks to the conservation upgrades, Keesler AFB expects an annual savings of 113,840 million British Thermal Units, a 15.8 p…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: .@Spangdahlem_AB was the first wing in @HQUSAFEAFAF capable of Agile Combat Employment. Being agile & persistent is a m…
Twitter
After catastrophic flooding in Germany & Belgium, @Spangdahlem_AB volunteers provide relief. “80% of people on Sp… https://t.co/6roLIRoFT0
Twitter
RT @Southcom: Supporting our partners in #Suriname: A @usairforce C-17 from @TeamCharleston delivered a field hospital to Suriname July 1…
Twitter
Congratulatons! 🎓 https://t.co/dzK8o0E9rK
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: On the latest edition of the Air Force Starts Here Podcast, we discuss the modernization of the @usairforce Career Developm…
Twitter
F-16s from the 555th Fighter Squadron fire munitions at the Graf Ignatievo Air Base range during Thracian Star 21 i… https://t.co/aYEY5PoEWD
Twitter
The #AirForce Civil Engineer Center, in partnership with the USAF Installation Contracting Center, has streamlined… https://t.co/8iFGwfrYHR
Twitter
A-10 Thunderbolt II's auxiliary power unit insulation is on the path of modernization as the Ogden Air Logistics Ce… https://t.co/3vWCDmV8Sf
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,354,233
Follow Us