On September 23, 2020, the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) launched a multi-part discussion series on race in the military.
While the military services have overall been broadly representative of the racial/ethnic makeup of the United States, growing attention has been paid recently to the lack of diversity in the most senior ranks, disparities in promotion rates, and racist incidents within the military. In addition to being personally harmful for the individuals encountering such incidents and challenges, these diversity and inclusion failures also threaten America's military competitiveness by not taking full advantage of the nation's rich talent pool.
The first discussion session focused on the lived experiences of people of color in the U.S. military; future sessions will cover topics including effective leadership in an increasingly diverse force and the importance of understanding intersectional experiences. Discussions will be moderated by Bishop Garrison and CNAS Adjunct Senior Fellow Dr. Jason Dempsey.
Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) delivered keynote remarks at the launch of the discussion series. Rep. Brown serves as the Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee. A retired Colonel in the United States Army Reserve who served as an aviator and JAG officer over the span of his military career, he was among the nation’s highest-ranking elected officials to serve a tour of duty in combat when he deployed to Iraq in 2004.
Panelists in the inaugural session included:
- Terrence Hayes, an Army veteran and current National Director, Communications & Public Affairs at Veterans of Foreign Wars;
- Melissa Bryant, a military and veteran advocate, former U.S. Army Captain and Department of Defense senior civil servant;
- James Anderson, USAF Captain and national security professional; and
- Dr. Kyleanne Hunter, Co-director of the Athena Leadership Project and Assistant Professor of Military and Strategic Studies at the United States Air Force Academy.
This series is a continuation of the MVS program's longstanding dedication to enhancing understanding of traditionally underserved populations in the military and veteran space, as shown by our women veteran author series, partnership with the Athena Leadership Project and research on women in combat, and Minority Veteran Needs Assessment. It will be accompanied by an increased number of pieces in our Supporting the Military Community commentary series focusing specifically on issues of diversity and inclusion.