Dear Soldiers, civilians, family members and Soldiers for Life:
Sunday, we celebrated the 72nd anniversary of the official end to racial segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, just as neither the thirteenth amendment nor the Civil Rights Act eliminated racism from American society, the integration of our military did not eliminate racism from our ranks. The past few months have reminded us that we still have a long way to go on our never-ending journey to be a more perfect organization.
The U.S. Army did the right thing 72 years ago, but admittedly, some leaders in the Army were reluctant. A common phrase both then and now is that the Army is not a social experiment, and that is true. But the Army does not need to experiment to know that our strength lies in the diversity of our people and, more importantly, inclusion. Defending the Constitution and protecting the American people requires great leadership, and the best leaders are those capable of understanding multiple perspectives and empathizing with those whom they lead. Our best leaders are those who know how to inspire others and make each person feel like a valued member of a team, whether that person is a Soldier, an Army civilian, a family member or a retiree/veteran Soldier for Life. That is how you recruit and retain America’s best and brightest. That is how you defend a Nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Our Army’s philosophy is People First, and our attitude is Winning Matters. That means treating each other with dignity and respect. It means putting the right people in the right place at the right time. It means building cohesive teams that are highly-trained, disciplined and fit. “Project Inclusion” is a new holistic effort to eliminate both overt prejudice and unconscious bias. The elimination of DA photos from promotion boards is just the first step. “This Is My Squad” is the foundational element to inculcate an Army culture of taking care of each other. Your “squad” includes your leadership, your battle buddies, your subordinates and your family, whether you are a private, a civilian or a general. And when a member of your squad is in trouble - from harassment, assault, mental health concerns or prejudice - you take action because you care.
We are proud to serve with the greatest Soldiers in the world and be a part of the greatest fighting force. Today, let us celebrate how far we’ve come as we work to continue moving forward together.
People First — Winning Matters — Army Strong!