The Army designated June as Army Heritage Month. The intent is to recognize and celebrate diversity, and to promote cohesion, teamwork, and esprit de corps in the total Army force.
Like our nation, the 104th Training Division is made up of people, who have different life experiences, have been raised in different cultures, and have different approaches to solving problems.
For over 245 years, the U.S. Army has led the way in defending this great nation. We are a time-tested, tried, and true force that stands ready to engage our nation’s enemies and protect our citizens. In becoming the elite force we are, the Army has learned that, by embracing diversity and inclusion in its ranks, we have become a stronger and more lethal force. The Army has been at the forefront of celebrating diversity and rejecting discrimination.
Since assuming command, we have worked together to embrace diversity and inclusion in our ranks. We have recognized the incredible contributions to the success of our society and our Army made by women, Black Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and many others. We have also recognized that our division’s heritage is rooted in the fight against discrimination, oppression, and even genocide. Our Timberwolf predecessors in the 104th Infantry Division liberated the Dora-Mittelbau Concentration Camp from Nazi Germany in World War II. The Dora-Mittelbau Concentration Camp, comprised of Jews, Poles, Soviets, Romani, political prisoners, and others, suffered under extremely cruel and inhumane conditions. Over 60,000 people worked at Dora-Mittelbau, and records indicate that over 20,000 died at the camp. “We were battle-tired and combat-wise medics, and we thought there was nothing left in the books we didn’t know. Yet in a short period of two days, I and many others of the Division saw and lived a story we shall never forget,” said Sgt. Ragne Farris, a 104th Infantry Division medic, who participated in the liberation.
Today, we are focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in our Army while fighting extremism and discrimination. To emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion, we send out messages monthly to commemorate important events, draw attention to key programs, and highlight Army values. Your front-line leadership echoes these messages in briefings and training sessions. Promoting diversity and inclusion in our Army and in this command is a force multiplier, violating them divides us and adversely affects our performance as a team.
Like our nation, the 104th Training Division is made up of people, who have different life experiences, have been raised in different cultures, and have different approaches to solving problems. When we talk about diversity, we are talking about harnessing the power of what makes us individually different to make us collectively stronger. We celebrate our differences, when we recognize and include them into our own Timberwolf culture. Across our formation, we are diverse in many ways. As an Army, we draw strength from a diverse recruit base filled from a common desire to serve our nation, and in many cases, that recruit base was shaped by completely different life experiences and cultures. All of them bring different skills. Our Soldiers harness their own differences to train and develop initial entry Soldiers in ways that draw out their best and build the foundation for the next generation of leaders. Our Soldiers will continue to train and inspire the next generation of leaders regardless of differences.
This year’s Army Equal Opportunity theme of “Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service” speaks to the importance of developing leaders who prioritize people and who are committed to creating a positive culture for everyone on their team. This is an important reminder of the strength the Army has gained, and will continue to advance, through a high-quality, diverse, all-volunteer force. Our diversity also extended to our capabilities. Each Soldier has different talents, skills, and strengths that they have developed over time. We must consider that our fellow Soldiers who struggle in one area, such as physical fitness, may excel in other areas such as weapons qualification. I ask that all of us seek to identify the unique skills on your team and provide opportunities for your teammates to utilize their skills and maximize the potential of your team.
As leaders, we should recognize the diversity, valuable experience and unique skills that everyone brings to the fight. Doing so creates an inclusive environment, makes our command stronger, and allows our Soldiers to flourish.