Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Rath Hoffman led a briefing at the Pentagon on 21 July announcing the department’s commitment to progress on issues of diversity and inclusion. Hoffman also addressed the National Defense Strategy and other topics.
Hoffman stated that Defense Secretary Dr Mark T. Esper is committed to diversity and inclusion and has conducted a review in a bid to rectify shortcomings and develop options. His comments came at a briefing outlining the DoD’s new approach.
The briefing followed the first meeting held by the Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion in the Military last week. Hoffman said the board plans to conduct a six-month study to develop concrete recommendations to promote opportunity, diversity and inclusion among all ranks.
Commitments, resolutions and efforts proposed include: obtaining and analysing data on prejudice and bias within the force; developing educational requirements to educate service members on the signs and effects of unconscious bias; reviewing the effectiveness of military service equal opportunity offices; and much more, he said.
To emphasise the department’s commitment Hoffman told reporters that Esper has opened a conversation with service members to discuss diversity and inclusion throughout the force and will continue to do so.
He also paid tribute to civil rights leader US Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who died 17 July, noting Lewis’ involvement in fighting for inclusion during his lifetime. “His work remains an inspiration and part of the foundation in our collective fight for racial justice and equality,” Hoffman said.
During the briefing, Hoffman also addressed the DoD’s global strategy. In particular, he noted the department is continually reviewing its global force posture, regarding China and Russia especially. This is also outlined in the National Defense Strategy.
The department’s strategy will be discussed by Congress and the administration to ensure bipartisan support.
Hoffman said: “We seek to maintain military-to-military relationships with China and Russia alike. We believe that’s incredibly important to avoid misunderstandings in the future”. He added that Esper plans to travel to China later this year.