FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – Lt. Col. Dartanion Hayward, commander of the 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, knows it takes more than wishful thinking to effect change.
“Action actually drives change, not thought,” the Philadelphia native said. “Thought drives desire, but until you put action into it, nothing is going to happen.”
Hayward enlisted in the Army in 1997 as an 88M motor transport operator feeling the experience would make him a better leader. He later commissioned in 2002 after obtaining a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship in his sophomore year at Penn State.
Despite a love for combat arms, choosing Infantry as a branch was out of the question because of his severe allergy to grass, and his second choice, Aviation, wasn’t an option because his eyesight didn’t make the grade. Hayward settled into the Military Intelligence branch with a detail to Armor, making him one of a small handful of Black intelligence officers.
President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948, establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, committing the government to integrating the segregated military. The Army’s nine training divisions were integrated by 1951, and by 1954 the Army reported it was fully integrated.
While strides have been made and the Department of Defense reaps the benefits of a workforce where team members from a variety of backgrounds unite for a common mission, the recent DOD Board on Diversity and Inclusion Report released on Dec. 18, 2020, identified the fact that more work must be done to ensure the military accurately reflects the nation’s diversity and every member of the force is treated with dignity and respect. Women and minorities remain underrepresented in parts of the military, particularly at the highest levels of leadership.
Recent changes include reviewing hairstyle and grooming standards for racial bias resulted in revisions to Army Regulation 670-1 in 2021. The DOD report, Recommendations to Improve Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. Military, advocates taking other, long-term steps to improve racial and ethnic diversity. Two of those steps are diversifying senior-level positions so they reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup, and identifying and removing barriers to senior leadership for diverse candidates.
In Focus Area 1: Recruitment and Accessions, the board recommends increasing the pool of qualified ROTC enrollment, scholarship and commission applicants from minority-serving institutions.
Leaders at the headquarters of the Army’s military intelligence training and the traditional home of the Buffalo Soldier, are taking action on that recruiting recommendation by visiting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, across the country to drive change and diversify the Military Intelligence (MI) branch.
According to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, HBCUs were established in the United States early in the 19th century to provide undergraduate and graduate level education opportunities to people of African descent. Congress defined an HBCU in Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965 as a school of higher learning that was accredited and established before 1964, and whose principal mission was the education of African Americans.
When demographic information compiled by the Office of the Chief of Military Intelligence revealed a stark lack of diversity among officers currently serving in the military intelligence career fields, Maj. Gen. Anthony Hale, commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence & Fort Huachuca, wanted to make a personal difference.
Hale began incorporating visits to HBCUs on his many travels around the Army.
“I made it my objective to get on a campaign to recruit more minorities into the Intel Corps,” he said during a recent visit to Jackson State University. Hayward and other Black MI officers accompany Hale on these visits.
Their first visit was to Maryland HBCUs Morgan State and Bowie State in May 2021, followed by visits to Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and Virginia State University. Earlier this month, they traveled to Mississippi to visit Alcorn State and Jackson State Universities.
“Major General Hale’s recruiting briefs at 13 HBCUs in the past year, most recently to two in my home state of Mississippi, demonstrates leadership in action to ensure the next generation of military intelligence professionals are diverse and the most talented our Army has seen,” said U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss.
Hayward is inspired the Chief of Staff of the Army has placed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
“We can make it better in the Army; we have the ability to drive that kind of change and show the rest of society this is what right looks like,” said the commander of more than 1,100 military intelligence trainees.
“Nothing changes until something changes,” he continued. “We can talk about the change all day long, but it won’t change until something happens.”
Hayward has heard people talk about issues of diversity and inclusion within military intelligence for more than 20 years with very little action being taken.
He has his eye on the future and leaving a legacy for future Soldiers.
“If we don’t want to continue to look like and act like the things we’ve been struggling through for hundreds of years, then we need to start changing the trajectory of this compass,” Hayward said. “One azimuth on a compass makes a dramatic change when you continue to walk that way for five, six hundred meters. So if we just make one slight change and walk in that direction, it’s phenomenal what it will do in the future.”
While speaking to a group of ROTC cadets at Alcorn State University this month, Hale said, “When I talk to young officers, young minority officers in particular, they say I want to look up and see people that look like me. And right now, they don’t see a lot of folks that look them, and I am determined to change that.”
Like Hale, Hayward is motivated to be an agent of change and frequently paraphrases Proverbs 13:22, “A wise man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,” when he talks about improving diversity and inclusion in the Army.
Hayward’s travels with Hale to HBCUs are designed to educate cadets about career possibilities in military intelligence. The interactions inspire him as well.
Sometimes cadets are astonished to meet a Black MI officer from North Philadelphia.
“I bet you thought you’d never see a lieutenant colonel from the Strawberry Mansion-area of North Philadelphia?” he asks them. “No sir” is a typical response.
On one HBCU visit, Hayward recalls a cadet turning in the opposite direction when they saw a general officer. But not all cadets turn away. Many flock to Hale, Hayward and other MI officers to seek out advice, mentorship and contact information. Hayward was particularly thrilled when a cadet he had spoken with reached back to him in December to let him know she assessed MI and is branch detailed to Armor.
Because there can be generational disparity that might make it challenging for today’s college students to relate with a two-star general and lieutenant colonel, a junior officer is also a member of the HBCU outreach team.
1st Lt. John Jones is a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and serves as the executive officer at Alpha Company, 309th MI Bn. He has joined Hale on visits to HBCUs including his alma mater, and most recently, Alcorn State and Jackson State Universities. For Jones, the opportunity to take part in driving change was one he could not pass up.
“I hope to one day make a strategic impact to the MI field and also be a role model for aspiring officers,” he said, applauding Hale’s initiative and noting the general is truly getting after diversifying the ranks.
Hale tells cadets and officers they need three things: a mentor, an advocate and a sponsor. Hayward described the role of each —a mentor providing step-by-step instructions, an advocate championing you on, and a sponsor having the ability to pull you in.
“That’s the issue we have,” he observes. “We don’t have someone pulling us in.”
Hale sees himself as a person who can be a sponsor who can pull someone in, and Hayward notes it’s good for the cadets to see that.
Hayward has observed the cadets are hungry and are looking for opportunity. Their training is very maneuver based, so that is what they know about the Army, he explained. Most aren’t aware of the opportunities in military intelligence while wearing the uniform and how they can translate to a civilian career after their time in the Army.
The interactions with the future leaders of military intelligence have also made an impression on the commanding general.
“I’ve been visiting Historically Black Colleges and Universities for the last year, and it has been the most inspiring thing that I have done while in command over 18 months at Fort Huachuca,” Hale told cadets during his February visit to Alcorn State University.
Hayward hopes to continue carrying the torch. Educating and encouraging subordinates and peers alike is the influence he wants to have throughout his career.
Returning to the topic of diversity in the military intelligence corps, he notes, “It’s not a Black problem or minority problem. It’s an ‘our’ problem. It’s everyone’s problem that we’re so under-represented within intel. If all of us aren’t fighting it, it will always be ‘us’ and ‘them.’ This is a problem we all need to address.”
Hayward sees Hale’s initiative as a great start and hopes it continues when the next commanding general inevitably takes command. Having a bigger pool of diverse candidates increases the likelihood of one crossing the finish line to senior leadership.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” says Hayward. “The diversity and inclusion and equality piece is so important in that it gives other people hope to say, ‘I have the ability to obtain that.’”
(Editor’s note: Maj. Robin Cox, director of the USAICoE Strategic Communication Commander’s Action Group, contributed to this article.)
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Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command and more than 48 supported tenants representing a diverse, multiservice population. Our unique environment encompasses 946 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.
Located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was declared a national landmark in 1976.
We are the Army’s Home. Learn more at https://home.army.mil/huachuca/.