Air Force Recruiting Service Institutes Diversity Targets for USAF

The Air Force Recruiting Service is implementing diversity targets for USAF recruiting efforts and will gauge its progress once a month beginning in fiscal 2021, AFRS Commander Maj. Gen. Edward W. Thomas Jr. announced Sept. 14. The Space Force will also adopt these targets, he added.

“The targets are based on the qualified pool of potential recruits in the country,” he explained.

The diversity targets will be applied across the entirety of Total Force recruiting—not just for rated recruitment efforts, though increasing the diversity of USAF’s rated corps remains a top priority, AFRS spokesperson Chrissy A. Cuttita confirmed to Air Force Magazine.

“We’re basically employing one of the old management axioms that what gets measured gets done,” Thomas explained during a media roundtable held during AFA’s virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference. “This isn’t a quota—it is a target—but we’ve got to be able to measure this, look at it, and be able to adjust and tweak to ensure we can move the needle.”

Thomas said that targets exist for “major demographics” for enlisted Airmen and officers in the categories of sex (male vs. female) and race (Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, African American, and an “other” category that includes Native Americans and additional groups). AFRS has the ability to dive into these numbers more deeply, he noted, but examines recruiting data for these “basic groups” on a monthly basis.

By monitoring how it measures up against these targets, USAF will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of its marketing efforts and tweak them as needed to maximize their reach, he said.

“Quotas are illegal—there’s clear legal cases—that’s not what we’re doing,” Thomas said. “It’s not reverse discrimination. It’s simply making sure everybody understands the opportunities available in our Air Force and our Space Force.”

Though the endeavor officially kicks off on Oct. 1, Thomas said AFRS has already started working on these efforts.

Ultimately, he said, AFRS hopes these targets will help the service achieve “the desired force mix based on demographics.”

And though USAF’s enlisted corps is “meeting or exceeding” its targets for most of its demographics, it’s struggling with Asian American recruitment, he added.

Although Asian Americans comprise 9.1 percent of the total number of Americans between the ages of 17 and 21 who are eligible to serve in the Air Force, they account for a mere 4.3 percent of USAF’s recruits this year, Thomas noted.

“We’ve got work to do,” he said.