As the 22nd Secretary of the Army, my job was to ensure the Army remained the most effective fighting force the world has ever known. Critical to this effort was the constant recruiting, training and retention of the best people our country had to offer. The strength of the U.S. Army derives not from its technologically advanced weapon systems, but from the intelligence, creativity and ingenuity of the more than one million soldiers currently serving here at home and in 150 countries around the world.
I prioritized guaranteeing that every American who could meet the Army’s high standards had the opportunity to serve. This included changing policies that once prevented women from being assigned to certain combat units and breaking down barriers that forced religious Americans to choose between serving their country or being true to their faith. It also meant acknowledging the existence of transgender service members in the ranks and establishing a framework for their open service.
Read the full op-ed in TIME.