Air Force Gen. Darren McDew, the commander of the Air Mobility Command, based at Scott Air Force Base, has plenty to say about the importance of diversity and how to develop it in the top military ranks, according to a story in Military Times.
McDew, one of the U.S. military’s highest-ranking officers of color, is quoted in a story on how the senior leadership of the Air Force remains largely white and male, despite an emphasis on diversity in the service and throughout the military, according to data and interviews with service leaders.
The Air Force has 280 generals, but only 18 of them belong to minority groups. That includes two Hispanic officers, or less than 1 percent of the total. The 13 African-American generals make up 4 percent of the Air Force's general officer corps.
The surest path to the top is leading front-line combat units, according to McDew, an air cargo pilot who pinned on his fourth star in 2014, shortly before he took command of AMC.
"We're not that much different than the Army in that the combat arms part of our Air Force has traditionally been where we have drawn our most senior leaders," said McDew, a C-17 air cargo pilot. “It's because those combat arms have a natural link to the operational part that is the core of the service."
The Air Force's 9,000 combat pilots are at least 87 percent white. More officers declined to identify their race, 5 percent than the next highest minority group, African Americans, at 3 percent. Nearly 94 percent are men. The military, as a whole, is dominated by men at 85 percent of its personnel.
Air Force enlisted personnel are much more diverse than their officer counterparts. About 70 percent of enlisted airmen are white and 15 percent African American; nearly 19 percent of its enlisted ranks are women.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is calling for carving out safe zones for refugees in war-torn Syria, by force if necessary, according to a story in DefenseOne.com.
“I don’t believe that committing combat forces to Syria is the right approach,” said Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, in an interview with the blog last week. “I do believe this is the humanitarian challenge of our time … the United States should join an international security force to protect these safe zones.”
Earlier this month, Durbin asked Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter about the feasibility of establishing the zones when they testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Durbin is the ranking Democrat on the powerful subcommittee that controls Pentagon purse strings.
The Air Force is not making any more changes to its physical training test, according to a story in the Air Force Times.
After spending eight months and hundreds of man hours looking into waist measurement standards, the Air Force considers the issue closed, said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh.
“Screwing around with too many of the details doesn't buy us a lot; it creates pain and I don't think it changes the individual results that dramatically – and this is from a guy who worries about the abdominal circumference measurement every year,” Welsh said at a May 21 virtual town hall meeting.
Since October 2013, airmen who fail the abdominal circumference portion of the PT test have had the option of undergoing a Body Mass Index screen if they score 75 out of 80 points on the rest of the test. If they don't meet BMI standards, they can have their percentage of body fat calculated.
The changes followed an exhaustive review into longstanding complaints from airmen who claimed they can pass the push-up, sit-up and run portions of the PT test, but they exceed the waist maximums of 39 inches for men or 35.5 inches for women because they are built large.
An investigation released last week into why the U.S. military built a $25 million headquarters in Afghanistan it never used condemned the behavior of one officer in particular: the top commander’s lawyer, according to a story on the ProPublica website.
In a series of emails to other officers in 2013 and 2014, Army Col. Norm Allen said he wanted to “slow roll” investigators, that he wouldn’t personally cooperate out of loyalty to the command, and that he would consider it inappropriate for others to do so. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, recommended that Allen be disciplined, the ProPublic story reported.
Instead of being disciplined, however, Allen has been promoted. Today he is the legal adviser for the prestigious command that oversees Special Forces, such as the Navy SEALs.
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at email@example.com or 618-239-2533.