Washington, DC – As the Senate Armed Services Committee begins debate on the defense budget,
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), have introduced legislation to promote diversity in the ranks of military leadership that better reflects the demographics of the U.S. military and the public it serves. Following up on concerns expressed by service members at a recent Forum on Military Diversity hosted by Senator Cardin, the bill introduced (S. 3181) would require the Secretary of Defense to develop specific benchmarks to promote and recruit senior-level members who reflect the military’s diverse population, including women and minorities.
“It is important that more progress be made on the recommendations of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, including steps to increase transparency in the promotion process for leadership positions,” said Senator Cardin. “Diversity among the ranks of our fighting men and women is a strength that needs to be similarly reflected among the military leadership.”
According to a March 2011 report issued by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC), minorities and women are still underrepresented among the Armed Forces’ top leadership, compared with the service members they lead. The MLDC recommended two broad objectives:
1) The Armed Forces systemically develop a demographically diverse leadership that reflects the public it serves and the force it leads.
2) The Services pursue a broader approach to diversity that includes the range of backgrounds, skill sets, and personal attributes that are necessary to enhancing military performance.
The bill introduced by Senators Gillibrand and Cardin would enhance the Defense Department’s ability to recruit, retain and promote leaders who are truly reflective of its population.