The Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army have announced a new initiative, Project Inclusion, to improve diversity, equity and inclusion across the force and build cohesive teams. The holistic effort includes a series of worldwide “Your Voice Matters” listening sessions with Soldiers and civilians, an examination of possible racial disparity in military justice cases, and the removal of photos from all promotion boards beginning August 2020.
Below you’ll find answers to several commonly-asked questions about this new initiative and the Army’s actions to ensure that promotion and selection boards are as fair and impartial as possible.
Q: With the recent events in Minneapolis across the country and the resulting focus on racism, what is the Department of the Army doing to address the issue of equity in the Army?
A: It is extremely important that leaders continue to promote an equitable and inclusive culture while reaching out to listen to the experiences and recommendations of their unit personnel. Open dialogue is critical to helping our people understand and support each other. When individuals reach out to each other and engage around challenges, whether professional or personal, it helps everyone know they and their input are valued in the organization, and this inclusion supports them being fully focused on the mission.
Q: What actions have you taken to institute diversity initiatives?
A: The Army has enacted a range of initiatives, including listening sessions across the force. The Army is also in the process of updating its Diversity and Inclusion training across our Professional Military Education from Private to our General Officers and Senior Executive Service Members as well as amongst our Military Equal Opportunity, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Diversity and Inclusion professionals. The training will aim to increase deliberate thinking and shift attention from the visual construct and keep the focus on the value that diversity brings.
Q: Does the Army have a challenge with race disparity in military justice outcomes?
A: The core of the military justice system is that every Soldier who has sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States is guaranteed our Constitution’s foundational promise – Equal justice under the law. It is the premise underlying our justice system, military and civilian, and is essential to maintaining public trust. Because the 2019 GAO report found indications of a racial disparity in some aspects of the military justice process, the Army has implemented improvements to its data collection and analysis, including, data standardization, collection, transparency, and enhanced analysis. These efforts will allow us to see ourselves more clearly so that we can understand and work to address this complex issue. We will continue to work to ensure that the Army honors the promise that all citizens receive equal protection under the law.
Q: We have seen on multiple social media sites where current and former Soldiers are voicing their opinions on both the George Floyd incident as well as the protesting taking place throughout the country. What is the Army’s guidance on Soldiers posting personal and political opinions on social media?
A: The U.S. Army is a values-based organization where everyone is expected to treat all persons as they should be treated – with dignity and respect, as outlined in AR 600-20, the Army’s Command Policy. Being online does not change this. Soldiers still represent the U.S. Army when they are on a social media platform. Commenting, posting and linking to material that violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice or basic rules of Soldier’s conduct are prohibited, along with talking negatively about supervisors or releasing sensitive information.
The Army's Command Policy, AR 600-20, currently gives commanders authority to remove or prohibit any symbols, flags, etc. that further discriminatory causes or ideologies or advocate the overthrow of the government.
Q: What are some key findings from the Army’s study of promotion boards?
A: The study focused on the existence of same race, same gender bias. The study found that removing DA photos may reduce the same race, same gender bias.
Q: When will the DA photos be removed? From which promotion boards?
A: Official photos were removed from all promotion boards beginning in August 2020.
Q: What initiatives does the Army plan to put in place to further increase diversity and efforts?
A: The Army has finalized its Army People Strategy: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion annex which contains 5 Goals (Leader Commitment, Talent Management, Organizational Structure, Training and Education, and Equitable and Inclusive Environment) and 25 Objectives geared toward increasing diversity and inclusion across the Total Force. The Annex also satisfies the FY20 NDAA mandate for the Services to have a strategic Diversity and Inclusion strategic plan by Dec 2020.
Q: Are we looking at removing gender/names?
A: The use of gender and names will be considered in an upcoming review.
Q: Does the Army have an issue with race in military justice?
A: The GAO study identified racial disparity in the likelihood that a Soldier would be the subject of a law enforcement investigation. That disparity generally decreases as a case moves through the process – and ultimately, the GAO found no statistically significant difference in the likelihood of either conviction or in the harshness of the sentence. The GAO did not make any findings as to the cause of this disparity, but the disparity alone raises a significant concern. Consistent with GAO’s recommendations, we are working to improve data collection to more fully understand the disparities. Additionally, we are looking at how to conduct a holistic review of how we investigate and prosecute alleged offenses, to ensure that equal justice under the law is true for all.
Q: What is the Army doing about concerns with race in military justice?
A: First the Army is working toward full implementation of the May 2019 GAO recommendations. Second, the Army is also working with the other Services to execute Section 540I of the 2020 NDAA. That statute establishes a common construct among the Services and DoD to collect data on the demographics of accused Soldiers and victims and, using that information, to identify, investigate, and resolve potential disparities in justice. Third, the Army will also work closely with the Department of Defense on any additional efforts.
Finally, the Army will conduct an assessment to examine racial disparity within our justice system. We are still in the early stages of figuring why the justice system is more likely to investigation certain Soldiers and what our investigations and command decisions tell us about the issue. Race and ethnicity are not currently actively tracked in investigations.
STAND-TO!: U.S. Army Project Inclusion