Cummings Calls For Enhanced Military Readiness By Expanding Armed Forces Diversity

June 16, 2011
Press Release

Cummings Calls For Enhanced Military Readiness By Expanding Armed Forces Diversity
Legislation will require metrics and benchmarks to guide effort to support expansion of diversity in Armed Forces’ officer corps and enlisted ranks.

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, introduced H.R. 2186, The Military Leaders Enhancement Act, a measure to ensure military readiness in the United States Armed Forces by increasing diversity among officers and senior enlisted ranks of the military services, including the Reserves and National Guard.

“To attain the highest level of readiness and preparedness, our Armed Forces must reflect the public they serve at every level of the enlisted and officer corps,” said Cummings. “It is my fervent belief that the Armed Forces should pursue a broader approach to diversity that supports the range of backgrounds, skill sets, and personal attributes that are necessary to enhance military performance. My legislation will help advance that effort.”

The Military Leaders Enhancement Act will implement the Military Leadership Diversity Commission’s recommendations. Cummings worked with Senator Ben Cardin and then-Congressman Kendrick Meek of Florida to create the Commission through an amendment included as Section 596 in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009.

According to the Commission’s final report, "…the Armed Forces must…acknowledge that diversity encompasses more than demographics, and they must take action to harness the range of knowledge, skills, and backgrounds needed to prevail in the rapidly changing operation environment.” 

The Commission also found that "with some exceptions, racial/ethnic minorities and women are underrepresented among senior noncommissioned officers and flag/general officers compared with their representation in the ranks below."

H.R. 2186 will require the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to prepare and implement a plan with a standard set of strategic metrics and benchmarks to track progress toward creating a 20-30 year pipeline of diverse officers and enlisted members within the active duty, National Guard and Reserve components of the Armed Forces. In addition, this bill will require annual reporting on progress made in implementing the plan, as well as data on the demographics of the 3- and 4-star officer pool.