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Following months of research and analysis, the Military Leadership Commission chaired by retired Air Force Gen. Lester Lyles published its report in 2011.

The report said that though the Armed Forces have long been leaders in securing opportunities for men and women of different backgrounds, it recommended that all members of the Armed Forces embrace an understanding of diversity that goes beyond the traditional focus. “Diversity is more than representing the American population—it is about recognizing and fully utilizing the range of talents, skills, and abilities of our Service members,” Gen. Lyles said.

Moving toward valuing all human differences for their contributions to military capability and readiness was the first recommendation. Second, the Commission urged services to recognize the barriers that may have prevented racial/ethnic minorities and women from advancing through the stages of their careers to positions of leadership. The Commission also recommended that stakeholders work to improve the educational and physical readiness of American youth. It recommended the improvement recruiting practices toward underrepresented groups. In addition, it recommended removal of barriers relating to career field assignment and assignments to field positions.

An important step in this direction was the removal of restrictions that prevented women from engaging in ground combat.

Other recommendations addressed the need to educate and mentor all servicemen about the promotion process, especially early in their careers. “Our diversity makes our country and our military great,” Gen. Lyles said.

Each year, USBE Magazine’s Vet Issue (previously Homeland Security, Government and Defense edition) joins with the Commission to build on that greatness. Through our articles and feature stories, we strive to highlight advancement to positions of leadership, contributions to military capability and readiness, stakeholders working to improve educational and physical readiness of American youth, improving recruiting practices toward underrepresented groups, and enhancing opportunities to educate and mentor.

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