Marine Corps Recruiting Command emphasized diversity in this award-winning poster, part of a 2012 campaign. A March 26 White Letter from Commandant Gen. Jim Amos creates a series of task forces to recruit and retain minority officers. (U.S. Marines)
A new white paper issued by Commandant Gen. Jim Amos outlines an aggressive campaign to make the senior officers' ranks more diverse in race and gender.
In the paper, released March 26, Amos said the Marine Corps has failed, despite the creation of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission in 2009, to reflect the diversity of the Marine Corps enlisted force, or the country as a whole, among its senior officers.
“I have concluded it is imperative that the Corps take a fresh approach to diversity, one that reflects our reputation for performance and leadership,” Amos wrote.
To that end, he called for the creation of four task force groups: two focused on attracting and retaining minority and female officers; one on leadership, accountability and mentoring; and one on culture and leading change.
Amos didn't provide a timeline for the activation of the task forces or define their size, but said they will be small and comprise officers from all Marine communities. Officers not selected for the effort and senior enlisted Marines will be able to participate through online surveys specific to each task force, according to the White Letter.
“We are looking at diversity in terms of strategic, not tactical gains,” Amos said.
Amos seemed to eschew a statistics-driven approach to the diversity effort.
“True achievement in this endeavor will come from our ability to maximize the performance of the Marine Corps by leveraging the strengths of all Marines,” he wrote.
According to a June 2012 Marine Corps Community Services demographic survey of the Corps, roughly one in three Marines is part of an ethnic minority, with 11.9 percent of the Corps identifying as Hispanic, 10.3 percent African American, and 7.3 percent other racial minorities.
According to 2012 Pentagon data provided to the New York Times, only 6 percent of Marine officers are black, though the Corps leads the other services in percentage of Hispanic officers.
Just over 7 percent of Marines are women, fewer than any other service. A 2011 survey by the Defense Manpower Data Center showed that just 5.8 percent of Marine officers were women.
The White Letter marks the most recent in a series of efforts to diversify the Marine officer corps. In 2012, the Corps launched a multimedia advertising campaign aimed at attracting minorities and women, and ramped up efforts to award Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarships to predominantly black schools.