November 25, 2015, by D.M. McCauley – From the humble beginnings of our nation, the United States has attracted millions of foreign-born men and women. This diversity of backgrounds and values makes us stronger. Having a multicultural fighting force led by equally varied senior officers brings new ideas, alternate ways of approaching situations, and combats the danger of group thinking.
Research has shown that groups with diverse demographic representation perform better and are typically more innovative, and this is important in our ever-changing world. If we want to generate new ideas and stay ahead of the curve, we need to think differently about how we accomplish our objectives.
A diverse group of men and women will encourage each other to succeed and become their best selves. A study conducted by Cristian L. Dezső from the University of Maryland determined that, “female representation in top management brings informational and social diversity benefits to the top management team, enriches the behaviors exhibited by managers throughout the firm, and motivates women in middle management.”
The negative attributes of diversity (in-fighting, decreased performance) were only observed in an environment where the leader of the group opposed their inclusion.
It is important to have your world-view challenged. Being surrounded only by others from your same demographic, experience level, and worldview is a recipe for disaster because they could be subject to the same shortcomings as you. Diversity is the system of checks and balances that will aid in preventing operational disasters.
As a sailor-turned-writer, my greatest enemy is no longer anti-ship ballistic missiles. My most cunning adversary is word blindness – the phenomenon of being so involved in your work and so ingrained in a particular train of thought that you don’t notice typos, logical fallacies, repeated words, or typos.
See what I did there? That is why writers need editors: little errors throw wrenches in your plans and over time can lead to even worse mistakes. They are the saboteurs you overlook that result in major logistic and tactical flaws. This is the reason why many overseas units utilize interpreters who are proficient and knowledgeable in the language and culture of their area of operations.
By broadening the pool of enlisted and officer candidates to select from, we increase the quality of men and women in uniform. Peacekeeping by the United Nations is an example of this, and reflects why they have been effective. U.N. Peacekeepers are multicultural with diverse regional, religious, and economic backgrounds. This allows them to be better equipped to handle highly complex conflicts and improve human rights conditions by having the ability to select the best soldiers for the job at hand.
We cannot genuinely say that our military has the best and brightest America has to offer when each group is not at least proportionally represented at all levels of involvement and leadership. The issue lies in the fact that not all cultural and racial groups join the military at the same rate. Much of this rests with their perception of the military. How can we change that?
The military should be simultaneously exclusive and inclusive. We want the best and brightest, and your ethnicity, religious beliefs, and sexuality should not matter. Membership in the military grants us united purpose and a shared duty to protect this nation we call home. Our military needs to truly reflect the melting pot our country has always been.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.