- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2020

Pentagon leaders say it may be time to strip the names and sex from military personnel’s promotion packets in a war against “unconscious bias.”

The idea was offered by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper over the weekend during a townhall live-stream.

Mr. Esper stressed “the importance of having that conversation [about pro-diversity measures] and the difficulty in initiating it,” Military Times reported. “The importance of giving our folks the lexicon ― the words, the definitions ― to start talking about things like discrimination, racism.”

His remarks follow the U.S. Army’s recent decision to exclude photos from officer promotion board packages.

“The strength of our Army comes from our diversity,” leaders wrote in a June memo. “Developing and maintaining qualified and demographically diverse leadership is critical for mission effectiveness and is essential to national security.”

“You’ve got to have these conversations,” Mr. Esper added to Saturday’s live-stream. “You’ve got to facilitate, and you’ve just got to be able to have that discussion. People want to talk, and we have to be able to listen, as well.”

Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Chairman Ramon Colon-Lopez also contributed to the discussion. 

“We’re a taking a very holistic look at the way that boards can look at packages, by virtue of merit, into promotion,” he said. “I know that the secretary and the chairman can agree that we can do better on those boards.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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