Air Force pushes pilot diversification plan

Air Force officials have announced a new plan to diversify their pilot force to include more women and minorities.

Officials want to expand diversification for the renowned position, historically dominated by white males, through recruitment, retention, and removing barriers for advancement by 2030, first reported the Air Force Times.

“Maintaining our strategic advantage…requires the agility of a diverse workforce to tackle challenges from different perspectives,” Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass and acting Air Force Secretary John Roth said in a statement on the branch’s strategy.

The Air Force’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and Civil Air Patrol programs will be bolstered to expand recruitment and target under-represented groups, noted the military publication.

The service branch hopes to expand its minority base by 300 percent in the next four years, but the branch says it’s not about meeting a quota – which is illegal under federal law – it is about increasing the Air Force’s outreach to new areas.

The Air Force has also set itself the goal of having a senior official visit 775 minority-serving institutions, like Black or Hispanic-serving colleges, by 2025.

Air Force Personnel Center data found that as of October 2020, men made up roughly 94 percent of active-duty pilots.

Female representation has seen a slight increase in the pilot corp since 2016, when women made up just five percent of the Air Force’s pilots, reported the Air Force Times.

While Black members of the Air Force make up roughly 15 percent of the branch, compared to White representation accounting for 71 percent, Gen. Charles Brown said that ratio is even slimmer among pilots.

“When I was a captain, I did an interview for Air Force Times, and it talked about the percentage of African Americans that were pilots. It was 2 percent. That was 30 years ago,” Brown said in December following the results of an Inspector General report on racial disparities, reported Air Force Magazine. “You know what it is right now? It’s still 2 percent.”

“Shame on us if we miss this opportunity to make a change that’s required across our Air Force to make it better, whether it’s the Air Force or the Space Force,” he added.