PROJECT INCLUSION: Army’s First Black Woman General Addresses Racism

Major General Donna Martin, an African-American female Commander at Fort Leonard Wood, penned a passionate letter entitled “Team of Teams” in which she encouraged the open discussion and exchange of ideas on the stories many minority soldiers have endured and how best to understand their struggles and mitigate them moving forward.

General Martin wrote: ”Achieving equality requires a sustained Team of Teams effort and the responsibility belongs to each of us. We need you. Together, we can do it. Together, we must do it.”

Command Sergeant Major James, W. Breckenridge, also at Fort Leonard Wood, tweeted in response to Gen. Martin’s letter, “Let’s make a difference, to be the difference.”

The U.S. Army is making changes to become more aware of its ‘unconscious bias’ and lessen the potential impacts it could have through a new initiative.

Thursday, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army announced a new initiative, dubbed Project Inclusion, to improve diversity, equality and inclusion across the force and to build cohesive teams.

The initiative will include a series of listening sessions with Soldiers and civilians worldwide to converse on race, diversity, equity and inclusion.

An examination of possible racial disparity in military justice cases will also take place, focusing on AWOL cases, urinalysis results, sexual assault and sexual harassment to determine whether a trend for bias exists.

Finally, the initiative plans for the removal of photos from officer promotion boards beginning August 2020 and new standards of subjecting warrant officer and non-commissioned officer board processes to the same evidence-based standards.

According to a press release yesterday, the Army has already taken steps to increase awareness of unconscious bias and mitigate its impacts, such as updating diversity and inclusion training across it’s ranks.

Several other high ranking military members and staff praised the Army’s movement toward improving diversity awareness, including U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, who tweeted. “We must continue to build a better force; one that is diverse, inclusive and representative of the American people that we serve.”

Major General Xavier T. Brunson, Commander of the 7th Infantry Division/ Lancer Brigade and an African-American said, “If you were willing to raise your right hand and join this team…I’m all for you.”

And soldiers also sounded off. Air Defense Artillery Officer Trey Guy posted: “The military has been a social experiment for good for at least the last 75 years in many ways. We were integrated before the Civil Rights movement, women integrated throughout the joint force, and the list goes on.”

 

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) recently implemented “Inclusion Training” into the Equal Opportunity Leader Course. The inaugural 60-hour course took place at Fort Eustis June 18 – 25 to prepare leaders as equal opportunity representatives at the company and battalion-level.

Army senior leaders will continue to identify and eliminate institutional practices that inadvertently disadvantage anyone due to immutable characteristics.

 

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