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FORT EUSTIS, Va. (Army News Service) — The Army has done a good job of increasing
diversity in the force in terms both race and gender. But there’s still work to be done.

At Fort Eustis, Virginia, July 12 through 14, the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command
convened the 2016 Army Diversity Summit to examine the reasons why the top tiers of
leadership remain so homogeneous while much of the rest of the Army has become
increasingly diverse.

The summit was convened, in part, to solicit subject-matter experts for proposed solutions
to the problem.

Diversity in race, gender and even social and economic background bring value to the
Army, said Under Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy at the summit, because diverse
teams of people produce better outcomes. And as the demographics of the United States
change, so too must the Army.

“The Army is in the people business,” Murphy said. “And to be here with subject-matter
experts to figure out how to make us an even better force that is more diverse, that is
more adaptive, and is more innovative is critically important to our future.”
While the Army as a whole is a diverse force, there is still a lack of diversity in the top
ranks, said Warren Whitlock, the Army’s deputy assistant secretary for diversity and

“Somebody can look and say the Army is diverse,” said Whitlock. “But that’s not taking
into account inclusion. Inclusion is when you have a synergistic relationship of people
who are historically under-represented in positions where they can weigh in on the current
and future operations of the organization. Inclusivity means having those diverse faces,
those diverse perspectives, the diverse demographic perspectives at high levels of the

Going into the summit, the Army provided insight it views as a starting point for those
subject-matter experts to consider: first, that 65 percent of Army general officers are
drawn from either combat arms or special operations forces. And second, that minority
officers are underrepresented at the ranks of colonel and above in the combat arms
branches of infantry and armor.

“I think one of the unfortunate trends is that we have seen some African Americans in our
Army, officers specifically, not go into the infantry or armor branches,” said Murphy. “We
need to double down in recruiting them to go into those branches. When you look at our
three and four star generals, the majority of them come from combat arms.”

At the summit, three teams of about 20 experts each, made up of both Army officers
and civilian subject-matter experts, were asked to develop recommendations on how
best to improve the diversity of combat arms officers in the Army. Teams examined the
problem from three different perspectives: accessions, development and employment,
and retention.

At the conclusion of the three-day summit, those teams briefed senior Army leaders,
including Murphy, on their recommendations.

Among the recommendations was the proposal to review how Human Resources
Command distributes combat arms branches to the various sources of commission,
which include the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York; the Reserve
Officers Training Corps; and Officer Candidate School.

A review of the branch distribution could potentially better allocate infantry and armor
branches across a more diverse pool of candidates. Ensuring the Army provides the
best opportunities to the best qualified is an important step toward talent differentiation
and inclusion.

Another proposed solution presented to Army senior leaders was increased mentorship
opportunities for minority officer candidates before they choose their branch.

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