Tags: Air Force | recruit | women | minorities

Air Force Secretary James' Diversity Proposals Called Quotas

By    |   Monday, 09 Mar 2015 09:08 PM

An ambitious diversity plan outlined by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James aiming to advance more minorities and women has come under fire, with some critics complaining the vision is more about quotas than competency.

"Diversity don't win wars," retired Col. Terry Stevens, who served 35 years, told Military Times. "Warriors win wars."

The flak followed a March 4 address in Washington, where James outlined nine proposals for increasing diversity in the Air Force — including waiving heights restrictions for pilots to increase the number of females in their ranks, to setting diversity and inclusion requirements for the teams that pick candidates for career and promotion opportunities.

"Diversity and inclusion will help us to become more strategically agile in our Air Force," James told the Center for a New American Security's forum on Women and Leadership in National Security, Military Times reports.

She noted the percentage of women and minorities in senior non-commissioned officer ranks has declined, along with their numbers in upper ranks, and that women leave the service at twice the rate of men during the middle of their careers.

For example, she said, black airmen make up 6 percent of the officer corps, but only 2.3 percent of pilots; women make up 6.7 percent of pilots while accounting for 20 percent of officers.

"A fundamental question I ask is: Are we spending as much time and resources and energy thinking about the next generation of our people, the next generation of our airmen, as we are thinking about the next generation of aircraft?" she asked.

Critics were unimpressed.

"Are we trying to look good, or are we trying to win wars?" Stevens, who worked at the Air Force Personnel Center for eight years, told Military Times.

According to Military Times, Airman First Class Ned Johnston wrote on the Air Force Times' Facebook page "So now it's more important to fill a certain quota with less qualified women and minorities than it is to fill that same quota with the best qualified personnel? If the best happens to be women and minorities, go ahead and give them the job. Don't lower standards for anyone."

But James argued the push "is not just about how we look."

"It's about our readiness and capability to perform in an increasingly uncertain geopolitical environment. To perform, we need top talent. Today we claim the title 'World's Greatest Air Force,' but to remain so, we must learn to be comprehensively inclusive, throughout our ranks, and throughout our specialties."

Military Times reports the Air Force hasn't provided a timeline for the changes.

To Stevens and some other airmen, the proposals amount to one thing.

"It's quotas," Stevens told Military Times. "They won't say that, but … in another world, that's quotas. If you're going to do that instead of picking the best qualified of any applicant, then you're actually downgrading the quality of the force. A lot of people are not going to agree with that, but it's true."

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An ambitious diversity plan outlined by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James aiming to advance more minorities and women has come under fire, with some critics complaining the vision is more about quotas than competency. Diversity don't win wars, retired Col. Terry...
Air Force, recruit, women, minorities
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2015-08-09
Monday, 09 Mar 2015 09:08 PM
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