Accession Number:



Air Force Leadership Diversity

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

Air War College, Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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The Air Force is not drawing upon its full talent pool for leadership in its most senior positions. This also has another negative affect of creating a general officer cohort that severely lacks diversity. Active duty general officer statistics bear out that the group is 94 white and only 7 female as opposed to the overall Air Force population that is 72 white and 20 female. While more diverse than in the past in terms of Air Force Specialty Code, the general officer cohort is 58 pilot officers, even though the promotion pool for selection to O-6 is only 30 pilot officers. Most people looking at that problem would conclude the problem is with the promotions boards, but the Air Force promotion system itself is not the problem. Leadership decisions to only allow officers selected for promotion from the below-the-promotion zone BTZ category to enter into the general officer ranks is one factor. That factor compounds with the Air Forces decision to limit the BTZ opportunity to roughly 3 when it could allow as much as 10 of the population to be BTZ-selectees produces a much smaller pool of officers for selection. Because there are such a high percentage of pilot officers in the general officer cohort this also limits the ability to increase diversity of race, background, gender, thought, experience, culture, and leadership as the pilot officer career field is one of the least diverse groups within the Air Force. It is time to look at different ways to select future general officers for the Air Force. There are many fully qualified and able officers in the mission support category that would be amazing representatives of the Air Force at all levels. We do not have to artificially limit them to capping out at O-6 if we want to encourage diversity in our most senior leadership levels as we seek to create a stronger Air Force that will continue to fulfill an increasingly complex mission.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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