US Marine Corps Adopts New Commitment to Diversity and Representation Within Its Ranks

Recognizing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of life, including the military, the U.S. Marine Corps has announced a new plan designed to help the storied institution “reinvent” itself to look more like modern America.

NPR’s Emma Bowman and Rachel Martin reported that “the Marine Corps, the smallest U.S. military force, has plans for a big overhaul designed to address its lack of diversity and problem with retaining troops.”

Gen. David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, told NPR that “the goal that’s driving what amounts to a cultural shift within the service is for the Marines ‘to reflect America, to reflect the society we come from.’” 

In the interview, Gen. Berger was quick to point out that the change was not meant to reflect “political correctness” or an attempt at being “woke.” Instead, the policy change was a general reflection that all institutions, including the Marines, are better when they include voices, insight and knowledge from a variety of different backgrounds, races and ethnicities. In short, Gen. Berger said America’s strength comes from its diversity, adding that it is also true for the military.

“Our advantage militarily is on top of our shoulders,” Gen. Berger told NPR. “It’s not actually our equipment. We are better than anybody else, primarily because we don’t all think exactly alike. We didn’t come from the same backgrounds.”

To help bring his vision to fruition, the general and other Marine leaders have created a new plan titled “Talent Management 2030” that includes a number of different measures the Marine Corps will implement in the coming years to not only help increase diversity within recruitment but also aid in improving career flexibility and retainment with the military branch. 

“About 75% of troops leave the Marine Corps at the end of their four-year term, the highest turnover rate among the military services,” Bowman and Martin reported. “To compete in an age of cyber warfare and space-based weaponry, the Marines wants to shake its ‘manpower’ model that historically prized youth, physical fitness and discipline over education, training and technical skills. According to the new plan, the aim is to grow a corps that is ‘more intelligent, physically fit, cognitively mature and experienced.’”

Gen. Berger said although he is eager to see the changes take shape, he was also realistic with his plan, realizing that it will take time for a reform of this scale to work its way through the Marine Corps, especially reaching senior leadership. He said this is especially true with the Marines since the branch didn’t open its ranks to women until 2016. Currently, less than 10% of active-duty Marines are female compared to the 20% to 25% range of other military branches.

“We are a purely combat force,” he said, pointing out how the Marines differ from Army, Navy and Air Force. “We were built under a different set of circumstances — but that is changing.”


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