Recently, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets from across the country had the opportunity to interact and ask questions of combat arms Army officers.

The informational event was part of a unique outreach program spearheaded by the Army Talent Management Task Force and is part of a larger effort on the part of the Army to increase diversity within combat arms branches.

Minorities are generally underrepresented in branches such as Infantry, Armor, and Aviation. This has contributed to a lack of diversity among Army Senior Leaders, as most generals are drawn from the combat arms branches. Additionally, women have also been prohibited from serving in combat arms until recently, further contributing to the lack of diversity in senior ranks.

Lt. Col. Tony Martin, an Armor officer currently serving in the Army Talent Management Task Force, spoke to a group of cadets from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, his alma mater and according to U.S. News and World Report the highest-ranked public historically black college and university in the United States.

“The Army is looking for diversity – diverse thought, experience, and education,” said Martin.

Martin explained that diverse organizations bring together people with different life experiences and viewpoints, allowing organizations to develop innovative solutions to problems.

ROTC cadets apply for their branches at the beginning of their senior year of college, usually receiving their branch during their last semester in college. Many cadets were curious about opportunities in combat arms, including in the Infantry.

Maj. Christopher Galvez, an Infantry officer previously assigned in infantry units at Fort Bliss, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Fort Polk, and most recently as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Army, spoke about the opportunities available to prospective Infantry officers.

“The Infantry offers limitless challenges and opportunities for personal growth. Above all else, the Infantry develops interpersonal and leadership skills. Skills in dealing with people are universally applicable and sought after,” he shared.

Some of the cadets had questions about managing extended familial obligations and starting a family in the Infantry. Galvez responded, “I am believer in the Army talent management process. Having influence and being able to socialize the future options with my immediate and extended family is life changing. As a result, my father, his wife, and my grandmother are moving from California to North Carolina to be near my immediate family. While initially skeptical, the Army earned the unwavering support of my family because they are part of institution and have a voice.”

Cadet Kayin Shabazz, a junior at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University who will attend ROTC Advanced Camp this coming summer, said he found the outreach session “informative.”

Although Shabazz has his mind set on Aviation branch, he still appreciated candid discussion with officers ranging from captain to colonel in Aviation.

“It’s given me more confidence to choose Aviation,” he said in an email interview.

“More cadets are considering combat arms at FAMU. We are becoming a more diverse organization and will soon bring that diversity to the Army at large,” Shabazz said.

The Army Talent Management Task Force spoke to several other universities nationwide as part of the program. In the future, the Army will continue to compete for diverse talent within combat arms branches to ensure the Army has the right people to dominate on the 21st Century battlefield.