Air Force IG directed to independently examine racial disparities in service’s discipline, advancement opportunities

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  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Department of the Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and service chiefs, Gen. David Goldfein and Gen. Jay Raymond, have directed the Department of the Air Force Inspector General to independently review the service’s record on military discipline and developmental opportunities for African American Airmen and Space Professionals. The review will assess and capture existing racial disparities, assess Air Force-specific causal factors, like culture and policies, assimilate the analysis and conclusions of previous racial disparity studies by external organizations and make concrete recommendations resulting in impactful and lasting change.  

By law, IGs operate as independent entities. The full results of both reviews, good or bad, will be shared with Airmen, Department of Defense senior leaders, Congress and the public.  

The request formalizes a step Goldfein publicly raised for the first time on June 1 in an official note to commanders and other senior leaders. That official message was Goldfein’s response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the public protests about racial injustice.

“We are not immune to the spectrum of racial prejudice, systemic discrimination and unconscious bias,” Goldfein wrote in his message to commanders. “We see this in the apparent inequity in our application of military justice. We will not shy away from this; as leaders and as Airmen, we will own our part, and confront it head on.”

In an open letter signed by Barrett and the two service chiefs, the leadership team wrote, “We are listening, and we are taking action. We have directed the Department of the Air Force Inspector General to conduct an independent review”. 

As part of the review, the IG will widely reach out to Airmen and Space Professionals via interviews, group discussions, targeted and anonymous surveys. In addition, to better scope this review, the IG has formed a Senior Leader Advisory Group composed of ten African American general officers, ten African American chiefs and four African American senior executive service Airmen. In addition, a number of Airmen from all major commands will be selected to join the IG review team. While other disparities also need to be reviewed, this phase will focus on African American racial disparities. 

“We want to make sure our Air and Space Professionals are able to share their experiences and concerns, and we want to empower them to be a part of the solution. Their voices will be heard and captured for the record. We have a tremendous opportunity here, and we will not waste it,” said Lt. Gen. Sami Said, the Air Force Inspector General.  

Anonymous surveys will be made available on by mid-June so anyone who wants to provide feedback will be able to do so. Directions for how to submit the feedback will be included on the survey form. The surveys will include specific questions but also accommodate any desired comments. Finally, the surveys will also include an email address for Airmen and Space Professionals to personally communicate with the IG team conducting the review.