Defense secretary announces effort to increase diversity in military

Esper releases video on diversity and inclusiveness

(CNN) – Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Thursday announced a review aimed at increasing diversity in the U.S. military.

Esper made the announcement in a video message to the Department of Defense. In the video, Esper said a diverse and inclusive military “draws out and builds upon the best in each of us” and forges teamwork.

He said the goal of the review is to increase racial diversity and ensure “equal opportunity across all ranks” of the military.

As part of the effort, Esper announced a new internal board called the Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion in the Military, to be established immediately.

The defense secretary is giving board members six months to develop concrete and actionable recommendations for change. There’s a specific focus on the officer corps, with a goal of developing more diverse candidates for promotion.

Esper also announced a new advisory board called the Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Services.

"This committee will be a permanent structure, comprised of a diverse group of Americans committed to the task at hand," he said.

"They will report to me and will have the independence and resources necessary to get us where we need to be. My goal is to have this advisory committee formed and operating before the end of the year, and to build upon the work of the defense board I'm establishing today."

Esper also believes there are issues of race, bias and inequality at the Pentagon he can address as early as the end of June.

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