The first black-and-white kiss on American television was between Lt. Uhura and Captain Kirk, a controversial decision for 1968 that reflected Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s broader philosophical commitment to addressing race in his science fiction. This bold approach to diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of the self-selected group of space nerds that make up Space Force. As the new branch of service finds its feet, it should embrace this ethos – proven aid to recruitment, preparation, and mission success – as fundamental to its identity.
Much of science fiction, from Jules Verne to Nnedi Okorafor, relies on a broad definition of diversity and inclusion. To be a space nerd, you need to extend diversity and inclusion considerations beyond intrinsic human demographic measures – otherness is not just about race, age, gender, religion and ethnicity. sexual orientation. Otherness in space concerns different forms of life, fundamental communication skills and competing values. I have been cautioned against proselytizing about science fiction when discussing Space Force issues because the general public might misunderstand the intent. But as a community of space nerds, we must recognize that our vocation to space-related activities can also provide us with a fundamental advantage.
The Space Force’s first commander, General Jay Raymond, says the right things. “We must embed diversity and inclusion into our ‘cultural DNA’ – making it one of the core strengths of our service,” he wrote in June. But to be frank, his one-year branch is at a dangerous and precarious inflection point. It is bogged down by miscommunications, accusations of partisanship and the risk of hollow rhetoric around diversity and inclusion. This is compounded by legitimate questions about the strategic implications of recognizing space as a combat domain, the operational imperative to integrate space into a joint domain operating concept, and the programmatic challenges of competition for defense resources. (The apparent jokes from a White House podium don’t help.) As the service struggles to adjust its public messaging, it should further emphasize its embrace of diversity and inclusion as a clear sign that intends to harness the best minds to meet clear operational objectives. Needs.
More than words are needed, of course. Here are some additional actions the service should take:
Implement DOD diversity and inclusion recommendations. On Dec. 18, the DoD released recommendations to improve racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion in the military, the product of a 15-member council led by the Secretary of the Air Force. Their implementation in Space Force is necessary, if not sufficient.
Valuing diversity and inclusion in different dimensions. Space operators, who are used to working in higher dimensional spaces when working through orbital mechanics, should also look beyond race, age, gender, gender, religion and sexual orientation as measures to achieve demographic equity. As it embraces representation, Space Force should also examine the intersectionality of the individuals it tries to retain and promote. This includes valuing a wide range of personal perspectives and professional experiences. It means raising voices of dissent and dissatisfaction, experimenting with different approaches to acquisition challenges, and it means valuing the individual’s role in operational success because of (not despite) living and family conditions. difficult.
Adopt what makes the space different. Space Force was created to address systemic culture and acquisition issues that a bipartisan, bicameral group of our elected officials believed were so broken they could not be resolved within the existing structure of the Air Force Department. As the Space Force continues to define its culture and relative independence from the Air Force through modest changes to its reporting structure, it should better embrace its differences in how it sees itself, its mission, and its goals. strategic. Diversity and inclusion should not only be a foundation for Space Force, but should also be the unique characteristic that sets it apart from its sister services and the sharp tip of the spear that facilitates mission success and readiness.
What makes science fiction fans celebrate a broad definition of diversity and inclusion resonates deeply within the community of space nerds who find refuge in the US Space Force serving our nation. Space Force leaders should use this innate sense of inclusion to help the service achieve its mission goals. If the Space Force fails in this endeavor, it could end up being ostracized and misunderstood, sharing the unfortunate fate of the protagonist of the first modern science fiction novel.
Sarah Mineiro was the staffing officer for the House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee when the Space Force language was drafted, negotiated, and signed. She is now an associate principal researcher at the Center for New American Security.