Directive urges initiatives to increase applicant pool diversity

Department of Air Force

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall has directed Air and Space Force officer commissioning sources to develop diversity and inclusion outreach plans by Sept. 30 to achieve updated applicant pool demographic goals.

These goals are aspirational and aim toward an officer corps that represents the best the nation has to offer.

“It is imperative that the composition of our military services better reflect our nation’s highly talented, diverse, and eligible population,” Kendall said in a recent memorandum. “[This goal] continues our progress toward achieving a force more representative of our nation, while leveraging that diversity to enhance the Air and Space Force’s ability to deter, and if necessary, deny our nation’s competitors.”

The Department of the Air Force commissions officers from three main sources: the United States Air Force Academy, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, and Officer Training School. In addition to the above, the Space Force utilizes a direct commissioning program to target critical skills, and these applicant pool goals will also apply to that program.

The department last updated applicant pool demographic goals in 2014. Updated commissioning source outreach plans will direct resources to reach the long-term objective of a more representative force.

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The revised applicant pool goals for the first time provide targets that do not look at race/ethnicity and gender separately, but account for the intersection of those identities so as to better tailor outreach plans.

“Our applicant pool goals are intentional, because our investments and outreach to top talent must be intentional,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones.

Recent total force initiatives have resulted in AFROTC Gold Bar recruiters and USAFA admissions advisors working side-by-side to raise awareness of commissioning opportunities in diverse communities.

The new applicant pool demographic goals do not affect selection requirements and will operate in parallel to existing merit-based processes.

After officer commissioning sources develop initiatives to attract applicants from myriad backgrounds, they will be required to report progress on these initiatives annually.

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