By Col. Rodney Bryan
927th Mission Support Group commander
The Air Force defines diversity as a composite of individual characteristics, experiences, and abilities, consistent with the core values and mission. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, personal experiences, geographic background, socioeconomic background, cultural knowledge, educational background, work background, language abilities, physical abilities, philosophical or spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity and gender.
One of the strengths of our nation and the Air Force is this diversity, which includes and involves all of us. In Executive Order 13583, President Obama stated, “Our nation derives strength from the diversity of its population and from its commitment to equal opportunity for all. We are at our best when we draw on the talents of all parts of our society, and our greatest accomplishments are achieved when diverse perspectives are brought to bear to overcome our greatest challenges.”
As commander of a mission support group, I fully appreciate the importance of diversity. The nature of the various activities and operations directed and controlled by mission support groups worldwide make them the most diverse group within Air Force wings. Functions typically include personnel, logistics planning and readiness, civil engineering, security forces, communications and services. These disciplines are brought together under the mission support group to provide complete and responsive support to installations and the Air Force mission.
Diversity is vital to the successful accomplishment of the Air Force mission. The Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley stated, “Across the service, we represent a broad range of diverse missions, family situations, ethnicities, faiths, races and educational backgrounds. Yet together, this rich tapestry forms the world’s finest Air Force, drawn from the best talent that America has to offer.”
The Air Force must attract, recruit, develop, mentor, and retain the best possible talent to stay effective. Embracing each Airman’s strengths, perspective, and capabilities will help build and sustain a diverse culture that strengthens our service. To gain the most from diversity, Airmen must understand they are valued and have the opportunity to reach their full potential while contributing to the Air Force mission.
Air Force capabilities and war-fighting skills are enhanced by diversity among its personnel. Diversity provides the total force a collection of strengths, perspectives and capabilities that transcend individual contributions. Personnel who work in diverse environments learn to make the most of and combine individual strengths, abilities and perspectives for the good of the mission.
Lastly, diversity is a leadership issue. We who are leaders must be committed to building an Air Force reflects the best of our nation. In addition, we must create an environment that promotes mutual respect and trust while promoting the development and mentorship of Airmen with different backgrounds and perspectives. The message must be effectively communicated that diversity is integral to Air Force core values and enhances mission readiness.
Photo: The strength of the military is improved by the diverse backgrounds of those who make up the organization, a senior National Guard officer said May 3, 2010.