Panel Calls for Diversifying Ranks, Women in Combat

The Congressionally chartered Military Leadership Diversity Commission has completed 18 months of research and issued its recommendations. Although the military does not have the same “institutional biases” against women and minorities as in decades past, the fact that so few women and minorities fill the senior ranks gives the “perception” that those biases still exist, said Lester Lyles, retired Air Force general who chaired the commission. That’s because there is a lower representation of women and minorities in initial officer accessions, along with lower rates of advancement in both groups, the commission found. In order to make the military ranks mirror the nation’s demographics, the Defense Department should consider diversity in officer promotions and require diversity leadership and education at all levels, commissioners said. DOD should also “eliminate combat exclusion policies for women,” they state in their final report. (MLDC webpage to access final report and executive summary) (See also AFPS report by Lisa Daniel)