The Diversity In Military Organizations
This essay seeks to examine the Army’s diversity typology throughout history, identify how diversity is a fundamental building block of a modern army and provides a template for the successful integration of programs supporting the Army’s diversity vision. The Army defines diversity as “the different attributes, experiences, and backgrounds of our Soldiers, Civilians and Family Members that further enhance our global capabilities and contribute to an adaptive, culturally astute Army” (Army Regulation 690-12, Chapter Four1). The Army is the archetype of a multicultural force, with an exponentially increasing amount of foreign nationals amongst its ranks. The Army has a presence in over 80 countries worldwide where divergent requirements, outlooks, and expectations contribute to the accomplishment of the mission. The systemic variance of race, color, age, national origin, religion, sex, and sexual orientation equip the Army to predict and manage the demands of a changing political landscape.
The Army has categorically prohibited the service of distinct ethnic and social groups throughout U.S. military history. Women, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and homosexuals have been marginalized and banned from service at the behest of Congress. Slowly the army has accommodated the aforementioned groups as societal norms changed. Although the current view of diversity in the Army is encouraged and relied upon, the Army still devotes time and resources to research, programs, and education. No other country has a number of diverse communities and experiences entwined in its social fabric.
The Army’s diversity and inclusion mission are to “develop and implement a strategy that contributes to mission readiness while transforming and sustaining the Army as a national leader in Diversity” (Army Regulation 690-12, Chapter 41). A diverse Army benefits both soldiers and civilians alike. Diverse groups possess better problem-solving and critical thinking skills compared to homogenous teams according to a recent University of Michigan study (Fanning2). Different perspectives result in greater problem-solving abilities. Group members from different cultural, academic, political, economic, and ethnic backgrounds offer a different set of cognitive approaches, instinctively providing better results and driving innovation. When examining diverse groups, the process of problem-solving is not performed by a single team member or leader. Rather the problem-solving process is additive; a short-term solution impacts the next, creating a cyclic flow of positive results. This combination of teamwork from different experiences and attributes enriches the Army’s capacity to operate across the globe with a culturally judicious population.
The Army’s diversity vision is to be the “national leader in embracing the strengths of diverse people in an inclusive environment” (Army Regulation1). This vision encompasses both talent management and soldier development for individuals who improve the community and have the capacity to synthesize emotional intelligence and the unit’s mission. The Army will continue to invest in diversity education and training, ensure leaders are committed to diversity practices, and maintain an environment where leaders value diverse backgrounds. The sum of these collective efforts will keep the Army strong and ready to withstand the challenges of the future.
The international political landscape requires more from service members than in the past. The scope and nature of conflict’s human dimension become increasingly important as new threats emerge. Asymmetric conflicts force the Army to not only understand new environments but the people of those countries as well. A dynamic and culturally cognizant Army directly translates to force multiplication on the battlefield. Success in the new international arena stems from a force with the broadest possible lens of perspectives, ideas, and experiences. The Army must draw on the largest spectrum of American communities and develop the pool of candidates to join its ranks. Experience, creativity, and, critical thinking are the benchmark of individuals who think and act autonomously but are bound together by a common cause. No other institution competes with the Army regarding a culture of unyielding self-review, forged from a history of combat where mishaps are measured in human lives.