Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley appear before the House Armed Services Committee hearing to discuss the Department of Defense in civilian law enforcement on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in July. Pool Photo by Greg Nash/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Top military officials are working to remove all personally identifying information from promotions packets, according to Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Army, Navy and Air Force have agreed to remove not just official photographs but all other personal identifiers -- including name, gender and racial identity -- from promotions packets, Milley said Thursday.
"All the service secretaries think this is the way to go," he said. "They made recommendations to the secretary of defense. And those actions are being implemented as we speak. And I fully support them. I think it's the way to go."
Milley said the intent is to remove conscious and unconscious bias from the promotion process.
"The actual promotion of a given file, I think that should be neutral, and done based on merit," Milley said.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said during a June address on diversity and inclusion in the military that the Pentagon was considering removing photos from promotion packets, and in July the Army removed photos from promotion packets.
At that time Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville pointed out that the branch is relatively diverse, but does not have many people of color in leadership roles.
Also in June, the Pentagon created an internal board on diversity and inclusion chaired by Air Force Secretary Barbara Bennett.
That task force is soliciting input from service members via crowdsourcing and other means, and reviewing research on bias dating back several decades.