By Thomas Brading, Army News ServiceDecember 12, 2019
WASHINGTON -- The Army is more diverse, talented, and lethal than ever, says a top personnel officer, with more strives yet to be made in recruiting and retention.
"We want our Army to look like our nation, and to reflect what's best of our citizens," said Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, deputy chief of staff for personnel, G-1, to the House Armed Services Committee's military personnel subcommittee hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
Although Seamands admitted there is plenty of road ahead in becoming more diverse, he also boasted about achievements the Army has made along the way.
For example, the total force has increased Hispanic representation in all three components over the last five years from 12.5% to 14.6% of the total Army, he said.
Within the same time-frame, female representation has also increased service-wide from 16.6% to 18%.
Since opening combat roles to women, all infantry, armor, and field artillery battalions assigned to brigade combat teams have become gender-integrated, according to Army officials.
However, not only have women integrated into combat roles -- some are commanding, too.
"We've seen the first female graduate Ranger School and go on to be an infantry company commander," he said. "She's went on to deploy with a special security force assistant brigade in Afghanistan."
The service's approach to diversity includes "the diversity of thought, talent, knowledge, skills, and experience -- which adds to the richness of the Army," he said.
"We're looking at the same demographics as the future makeup of our country," he said. "We're doing a number of things to try and make the Army or continue the army on the glide path to look like our nation."
To achieve this, Soldiers are being recruited from every state and territory -- through marketing products in multiple languages. This wide-net strategy "truly represents our country and ensures a diversified pool of recruits," he said.
One outreach initiative used to accomplish recruiting goals is "Meet Your Army," Seamands said. An outreach drive that puts Soldiers in communities where the Army has little presence.
"The Army has 22 focus cities where our recruiters are out there in areas we perhaps walked away from during the draw down," he said. "Places like Atlanta or Seattle, where we didn't have much of a presence. We've reinvested in those areas which represented a rich diversity of our country."
Other diverse cities -- like Los Angeles and Houston -- are also targeted by the Army, he said. There, like other targeted cities, officials hope to encourage college bound applicants -- who were initially off the radar of recruiters -- to go to into Reserve Officers' Training Corps and eventually commission, or directly enlist into the Army.
"We're also conducting recruiting and outreach activities focused on educating minority groups about the opportunities available in the Army," he said.
Last month, in effort to recruit younger cohorts from untapped cities, the Army also unveiled its new marketing strategy -- "What's Your Warrior?"
The focus of the new strategy is to educate 17-to-24 year olds -- who may know nothing about the military -- about the diverse opportunities on tap through their potential Army service, said Brig. Gen. Alex Fink, chief of Army Enterprise Technology, in an interview with Army News Service.
"We're engaging guidance counselors, we're engaged teachers, influencers across the board to help tell the story of the army and to expand our talent pool," Seamands said.
Although retention rates are at historic highs, Seamands said, retaining a more diverse force takes time.
"The Army is working to make up lost ground in terms of our representation of Hispanics in formation," he said. "But, we won't solve it today or tomorrow. It's got to be a long term approach."
One step in their approach is through a new talent management push. More than 15,000 officers are scheduled to move in summer 2020 using the new talent management program, AIM 2 -- or, the Assignment Interactive Module 2.0.
The information system is an online marketplace for officers, he said, designed to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the officer management process.
"We think [AIM 2] is going to increase the diversity," he said. "There's a lot of talent out there, quiet people, introverts, people who have exceptional capabilities that are not recognized, and we think this will bring that to the top.
In the past, United States Army Human Resources Command officials looked at an officer and where their qualifications were. Afterward, the Soldiers were given three to five options.
With AIM 2, every assignment is placed in the web-based marketplace and everybody has an opportunity to make a value proposition to the unit as to what they would bring to the unit," he said.
And, every unit has an opportunity to say, "This is why I want you to my team," Seamands said.
"It's got to be an investment in those young men and women who aspire to come into service and to encourage them to serve, apply and be competitive," he said.
With the nation is on track to being a minority-majority by 2040, he said, recruiting and retention "are things we have to get after and focus on."