Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced that her amendment requiring a Defense Department review of key Military Leadership Diversity Commission recommendations, including strengthening diversity among military leadership, and repealing the policy blocking women from serving in combat, was included in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate late last night.
"More than sixty years after President Truman integrated the Armed Forces by executive order, the Department of Defense is still working to ensure that those in military leadership positions are as diverse as the service members whom they lead," said Senator Gillibrand. "I urge the Defense Department to fully review recommendations to lift combat restrictions for women and advance more opportunities for women and minorities."
This past March, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, created by Congress in 2008 in an effort to make the leadership of the U.S. Armed Services more diverse, called on the Defense Department to allow women to serve in combat units and open more ground combat career fields and units to women in all services. The Commission also recommended creating a Chief Diversity Officer who reports directly to the Defense Secretary and developing metrics for consistent, robust diversity management policies that will promote more women and minorities in leadership positions in the Armed Services.
Gillibrand's amendment would require the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress in one year on the steps taken to implement leadership diversity goals for each of the military services.
According to the March report, African Americans account for 8% of active duty officers while Hispanic Americans make up only 5 percent of the officer corps. Women make up only 16 percent of the leadership rank.
Now that the Senate has approved Gillibrand's amendment as part of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the bill will be reconciled with the House version and pass the full Congress before being sent to the President for signature.