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ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala -- Last summer, the Army kicked off a new initiative, Project Inclusion, designed to create a safe space where Soldiers and Civilians have an opportunity to have candid conversations about topics related to race, gender and other diversity-related issues without risk of retaliation.

Since that time, numerous Anniston Army Depot employees have participated in forums where they could express their thoughts, to include an on-line survey by the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command and sensing sessions.

“It’s not until we effectively communicate with each other that we see each side of the issue,” said depot commander, Col. Marvin Walker. “We want to ensure employees feel safe to express their opinions throughout the sensing sessions and throughout the entire Project Inclusion process.”

The command intends to continue sensing sessions in the future whereas the more participation, the better the depot, the Army and the nation will be.

On Jan. 28, the Diversity and Inclusion Council kicked off the first of its quarterly meetings. The council is comprised of leaders from throughout the depot, tenant organizations and AFGE Local Union 1945. Diversity provides a greater range of talent, not just the talent that belongs to a particular world-view or ethnicity or some other restricting characterization.

In accordance with the Army Materiel Command’s Project Inclusion Lines of Effort which highlights Soldiers, Civilian and Family Readiness, when leaders are aware and committed, they drive a culture of diversity and inclusion, suicide prevention and Sexual/Harassment Assault Response and Prevention.

“We must build for the future, get the right workforce and embrace differences in pursuit of an equitable and inclusive environment,” said Gen. Edward Daly, AMC’s commanding general. “This isn’t about diversity just for the sake of having it. I firmly believe, with all of my heart, that diversity of race, gender, color, age and thought are crucial to our mission success.”

The diversity council serves as a tool, helping work through some of the Project Inclusion initiatives. “We want to create a forum with the ability to address diversity issues with the installation leaders,” said Walker. “We want to implement change the right way, through involvement at every level of the organization. Throughout the Army, Project Inclusion is a people-first initiative. Your opinions and thoughts matter.”

ANAD will develop and implement a strategy that contributes to mission readiness while transforming and sustaining the Army as a national leader in diversity.

Internal initiatives include the Commander’s Policy #14, which mandates sanitized resumes and panels to fill supervisory positions and GS-11 and above vacancies, Upward Mobility Program, Foundational Leadership Course and D & I Council meetings.

“Every Soldier and Civilian on the team deserves the opportunity to excel as far as his or her character, talents and determination to succeed, will take them,” said Walker.