For over three decades, military diversity has been a very complex topic within the defense units or national security departments for many nations. This arises when it comes to matters of conceptual and practical leadership, as well as the managerial implications. It represents one of the most essential, but challenging topics for the human resource management departments that leaders within the armed forces have been facing for over three to four decades. One of the greatest diversity challenges for the traditional military has been within the fields of development, employment, and recruitment, with regards to keeping their institutional norms, attitudes, beliefs, and values. This scenario has caused a continuous revision of the human resource policies, philosophies, practices and programs conducted by the armed forces. As a result, many researchers on the military activities recommend that the armed forces should be a reflection of the entire nation (Andrew, 2013), virtually involving or representing every possible religious and ethnic groups. This paper brings together all the possible evidences of progress in order to assist in understanding the strategies for managing diversity within the armed forces.
In all its guises and forms, diversity has been a topic of contemporary concern through debates, besides its influence on transformation and change as it poses a challenge on the government, institutions of liberal deliberations, as well as employers. To a common understanding, diversity is about differences, perceived or real, among diverse groups, coming along with the consequences of belonging to a certain group, especially with respect to social, political or economic contexts. The diversity of contemporary importance encompasses those of gender, sexual orientations, age, disability status, race, family status, ethnic origin or nationality, and religion (Military Leadership Diversity Commission, 2009). These differences are virtually important to the workplace in relations to leadership and managerial capabilities, work ethic and habits, and intellectual orientations. Elaborately, all of the listed aspects can only be achievable and developed through training, education, experience and various forms of socialization.
In the United States, military encompasses a team of both women and men from every region within the states, working together with a single goal: to protect the United States and fight for its freedom. Currently, the U.S. military service members comprise a team with exceptional traits and identity, and each service member is only judged by their performance; not by color, race, religion or gender as it used to be in the traditional military institutions. If the whole of the American society was to act like the military in this regard, the entire United States could be a better place than before (Trevor & Ernes, 1998). Nevertheless, there exist traces of diversity problems that still remain unresolved. Thereby, the military leadership emphasizes hierarchy, discipline, and prioritization of every group through individuals, and utilizes symbols and rituals in order to convey imperative meanings and transitions. Moreover, the military laws require that the commanding officers together with those in authority should demonstrate honor, virtue, subordination, and patriotism in all aspects of their daily lives and everything they do.
Background and Organizational Framework
Unit morale may only improve if the individual soldiers of a given unit understand that they are components of a large entity with records of the past respected accomplishments. The military history serves a significant role of inspiring soldiers hence offering them a pride of their profession. The history of the United States military dates back in 1770s (Trevor & Ernes, 1998), even before the declaration of the American independence, which marked the establishment of the United States. In close successions, the Continental Marines, Continental Navy, and the Continental Army were created by the second continental congress with a general aim of defending the young nation against the British Empire during the American revolutionary war. Demobilization of these forces then followed in early 1780s upon the end of the war for independence by the Treaty of Paris. Afterwards, the congress of confederation then created the United States Army by June 1784. Nevertheless, the Army's founding celebration took placeon 14th June 1775.
By 1787, the adoption of the United States constitution offered the congress power to raise and support other elements of their armies, to create, provide for and maintain the U.S. navy. It also provided the power to create laws and/or rules that would later be useful in governing and regulating the naval and land forces, as well as the powers to declare war. Additionally, it gave the United States President the responsibility of being the commander-in-chief of the military or armed forces. Military wrangles between the U.S., France and British, quasi-wars, together with the war of 1812, raised large volumes of tensions, thereby quickening the development of the U.S. Navy (founded in October 1775) and the U.S. Marine Corps (founded in November 1775). The U.S. Coast Guard traces its origin during the foundation of the "revenue cutter service" by August 1790. This service later merged with the U.S. Life Saving Service in 1914 to establish the U.S. Coast Guard. On 18th September 1947, the United States Air Force was founded as an independent service. It dates its origin back during the formation of the U.S. Signal Corps, and the Aeronautical Division in 1907, which formed part of the U.S. Army before upgrading to an independent service.
The United States Armed Forces encompasses the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. These military components give the U.S. A strong tradition over civilian control. The U.S. President serves as the overall head of the military and a significant figure during the formation of the military policies. In compliance with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the federal executive department, the President serves in the principle organs within which the formulation of military policies occurs. On the other hand, the secretary of the defense units, who is a cabinet and civilian member, serves as the head of DoD. Within the military's chain of command, the secretary of defense comes in at the second hierarchy, just after the president (Trevor & Ernes, 1998). He serves as the President's principal assistant in matters relating to the DoD (department of defense). In order to coordinate the military actions with lots of diplomacy, the president has the National Security Council advisory headed by the national security advisor. Both the President and the secretary of defense receive advice from joint staff chiefs made up of seven members, including the head of every defense department, as well as the National Guard bureau chief.
Chairman of the "Joint Chiefs of Staff" together with the vice chairman provides leadership at departmental levels; however, the Coast Guard Commandant does not work as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During joint missions and operations, all the branches come together to perform their defense duty under the commands by unified combatant, as well as the secretary of defense's authority, but with the exemption of the coast guard. This is becausethe Coast Guard transcends under the homeland security department, receiving its operative orders from the homeland security secretary. However, during times of war, the Congress or the President may transform the coast guard into the Navy Department.
Top Leadership Commitment to Military Diversity
For over the past five decades, the U.S. military has been struggling to increase the military opportunities to a maximum number for all Americans through its leadership in effective forces and diverse recruitments. A number of recent military reports reveal the military leadership realization of the need for increasing the number of young individuals, as well as females who can qualify for the military services. As a result, they also realized the need for not only continued efforts for making improvements in all the military branches, but also leadership partnerships with other sectors from all over the American society. In order to grip the perceived changes and continue along the positive path of diversity and inclusion, the leadership within the Armed Forces must take action towards eliminating both unconscious and conscious racism from the military. This will promote the positive diversity and inclusion as described within the DoD's strategic plan for diversity and inclusion, as well as within the full recommendations by the military leadership diversity commission.
The military leadership has put forth the strategies to support an evidence-based public investment that majorly addresses children, including the improvement of the quality of early childhood education, as well as obesity prevention and other dietetic measures. This strategy would help in bringing up youths with strength and potential, making them qualify for the military recruitments. As individuals from different races, the military leadership is difficult, but critical discussions about race can help boost their understanding on advanced racial healing, as well as unconscious bias, thereby putting racism beneath the military operations hence eradicating its influences (Military Leadership Diversity Commission, 2009).
A commission created to promote diversity, and total inclusion among the military leadership, issued a set of twenty recommendations as eighteen-month research finding on 8th March, 2011. This commission believes that these…