VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.
As part of Diversity Week, Vandenberg wants to acknowledge programs and efforts that are in place with the intent of improving our Air Force through the expansion of its diversity.
Capt. Marquis Smith, 30th Medical Support Squadron resource management flight commander is Vandenberg’s Diversity Champion, which means he’s at the forefront of the Diversity and Inclusion Program – leading our base on the initiative towards a more diverse Air Force.
“The Equal Opportunity office has partnered with the Vandenberg Air Force Base Diversity and Inclusion Champion, Capt. Smith, to assist in promoting the program,” said Vanneca Phelps, 30th Space Wing equal opportunity director.
Phelps and her office work hand-in-hand with Smith trying to improve upon and expand the Diversity and Inclusion Program.
Smith first got involved with diversity in the Air Force when he attended Squadron Officer School in October 2017. During the capstone of his course, the question he had to answer was, “Does the Air Force have a diversity problem?” The answer is yes. The second part of his project was, “If so, how can we change that?”
Smith has brought what he learned during his SOS capstone to real world issues and has put his Diversity and Inclusion plan into action. The program was put together at the beginning of this calendar year, and Smith was tasked to get the program up and running.
“The intent behind the Diversity and Inclusion Program is to diversify the Air Force through recruitment,” said Smith.
Smith is trying to implement a plan for this program so that years later, diversity will be more common amongst leaders in the Air Force and across the total force.
“The more diverse perspectives you have, the more diverse solutions you have to problems,” explained Smith. “If you have a bunch of like-minded people in the room, you’re going to get like-minded solutions. An emphasis of diversification is to bring diverse thought to the problem.”
Smith realized that the Air Force can’t become more diverse if everyone recruited is the same. His mindset is if we can recruit more of the minority, eventually our leadership and who stays in the Air Force will change – therefore making a more diverse force.
“I can absolutely attest that Capt. Smith is working to combat the shortage of all the minorities,” said Phelps.
Although the program this year hasn’t had any major events, Smith is planning tours for local students to come onto base to see how operations work through different jobs. He plans on working with the local recruiters in Lompoc and Santa Maria to efficiently reach various students in the local population so they all have an equal opportunity.
“Individuals such as Capt. Smith, that go out and reach out to the public are generating awareness in the community,” said Staff Sgt. Cameron Keating, 369th Recruiting Squadron enlisted accessions recruiter. “It really helps promote the Air Force in a positive way.”
With the support of the base and the dedication of Airmen, the Diversity and Inclusion Program here has the potential to change the diversity in the Air Force, making it better and stronger.
“We’ve come a long way in the past 71 years, we’ve made progress towards a more diverse Air Force,” said Smith. “We haven’t gotten to the point where everything is equal, however, we are working towards a more diverse and inclusive Air Force, and together we will get there.”