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Air Force forms permanent office for diversity, inclusion, equity

Air Force forms permanent office for diversity, inclusion, equity
Tawanda Rooney, a career member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service, will serve as acting senior adviser of the Air Force's Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The Department of the Air Force has formed a permanent Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which was stood up on Jan. 11 following recommendations for its creation.

According to a Tuesday announcement from the Air Force, the new office was officially stood up Jan. 11.

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But it evolved from the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force created by former Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett in June.

The office has become permanent following recommendations of both the Office of Secretary of Defense and an Air Force Inspector General independent review of racial disparity.

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That review, which was ordered by the secretary of the Air Force and the Air and Space Forces service chiefs, was released in December.

It found that Black men in the Air Force experience disproportionately negative outcomes at nearly every level, including more frequent court martials and fewer opportunities for professional development.

Tawanda Rooney, a career member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service, will serve as acting senior adviser on diversity and inclusion.

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Rooney previously served as the deputy director of the Concepts Development and Management Office for the Secretary of the Air Force.

"The Department of the Air Force is committed to enabling all Airmen and Guardians to thrive in a diverse and highly inclusive environment," Rooney said. "Our office will lead this charge and continue all the good work the Task Force initiated."

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Shortly before standing up the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Air Force directed commanders to review official and unofficial unit emblems and other symbology to root out offensive language or imagery.

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The military as a whole also launched a series of diversity initiatives beginning in 2020, including reviews of policies and outcomes affecting troops from marginalized backgrounds and crowdsourced input from service members.

"Diversity and inclusion are warfighting imperatives and we need to capitalize on all available talent by enabling a culture of inclusion where every member is respected and valued for his or her identity, culture and background," Rooney said.

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