Branding Icarus: The Construction of Identity and Diversity at The United States Air Force Academy
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
Pagination or Media Count:
Many of the arguments supporting diversity in the military focus on the instrumental benefits available to an organization that embraces differences. Viewed through this lens, diversity risks becoming another to do, and prioritized according to available resources. Arguing for diversity primarily from the basis of the capability argument also fails to challenge the as yet unresolved perceived tension between a militarys com-bat effectiveness, and its adherence to the values and laws of the state it protects. This thesis seeks to reframe the diversity debate by arguing that a diverse military reflective of the demography of society is a fundamental necessity in a Western liberal democracy. The paper uses sociological theory to posit that current approaches to diversity in the US Air Force overlook the role of identity in molding behavioral norms and influencing the ability of the organization to process and integrate difference. Using the US Air Force Academy as a case study, this thesis seeks to determine how identities are constructed in early officer training, and how these nascent identities might influence the overall levels of diversity within the organization. By blending quantitative and qualitative evidence, this project concludes that the US Air Force Academy constructs and cultivates exclusive identities that conflict with government initiatives to build a diverse and inclusive organization. The analysis concludes with a number of policy recommendations that the author believes might be beneficial initial steps in re-casting the dominant identity of the US Air Force officer corps.