Leading the way: Acceptance, inclusion in today's military

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Inclusion and acceptance is an ongoing battle in today's Air Force.  It's something frequently highlighted in the media and by the general public.  Acceptance and inclusion is also something that is very special and held dearly in the United States and its military branches.  It's what sets us apart from other countries and their armed forces.

When an outsider looks at the United States and looks at an "American" what do they see?  They can see someone of many different colors, religions, backgrounds and nationalities.  When someone looks at another country, for example, an Olympic team, most of their athletes look very similar to each other.  This proves the acceptance and inclusion we have in this country.  But with this we also have some things we should look at.

Our country has come a long way from the days of segregation and slavery, "don't, ask don't tell" policies, sexual preferences, and religious liberties.  In today's Air Force, we now have Airmen who can be open about these things and don't have to hide their personal lives anymore.  This acceptance is what makes us into the premier country and fighting force we are today.  We have taken all of the ideas and incorporated it into our Air Force doctrine.  Yes, the Air Force has made some mistakes along the way, but we have learned from them. 

Acceptance ties directly into diversity.  The Air Force has used this in all of its professional military education courses and routinely holds training and briefings on diversity. Why does leadership enforce this so much?  It is crucial to stay the pristine and top notch fighting force we are today.  Diversity has proven itself time and time again.  In each of the World Wars, every country brought something different to the battlefield.  Each military brought to light new fighting techniques and ways to accomplish a mission.  Most of which we have adopted and still use to this day.

In today's military, acceptance and inclusion is paramount moving forward.  We have to be aware of each person's strengths and weaknesses.  Every individual was raised in a different setting with their own set of beliefs and traditions.  When we integrate all of these ideas and come up with change and a new plan that is what will keep us and the United States as the premier fighting force and military.

We must continue to strive and move forward with this topic and promote diversity within our military and everyday lives.  A very successful businessman, by the name of Malcom Forbes, summed this all up in just a few words as he said, "Diversity is the art of thinking independently together."