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Diversity, equality strengthen bonds across force

A photo of people joining hands to show their unity, May 3, 2013, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The strength of the Air Force and other armed forces is built on its many cultures and diversity, which allow military members to learn and grow from one another. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Senior Airman Caitlin O’Neil-McKeown)

A photo of people joining hands to show their unity, May 3, 2013, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The strength of the Air Force and other armed forces is built on its many cultures and diversity, which allow military members to learn and grow from one another. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Senior Airman Caitlin O’Neil-McKeown)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The strength of the Air Force and other armed forces is built on its many cultures and diversity, which allow military members to learn and grow from one another.

July 26, 1948, marked a historic moment in the armed services when segregation was disbanded.

The implementation of Executive Order 9981 by former President Harry Truman established equal treatment and opportunity in the armed services for people of all races, religions and national origins.

"Diversity is of great importance to any organization that is focused on building strong teams and gaining the competitive edge needed to be successful in an uncertain and ever changing environment," said Chief Master Sgt. Danny Wells, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa equal opportunity command advisor. "When we limit diversity or overlook the unique perspective and skills our Airmen bring to the table, we minimize our potential to be the best."

Working side by side with people from all walks of life can bring different perspectives and skill sets that lead to creative and innovative ideas.

"It's not about what kind of head it is; it's about making each and every one of those heads in the organization count," said Wells.

A diverse fighting force plays directly into the Air Force core values by embracing equal opportunity concepts. Lifting the ban on women serving in combat was just one change that added to the military's development as a complete team.

"Acknowledging, accepting and embracing differences means recognizing that each Airman, man or woman, is part of the bigger picture and changes such as allowing homosexuals to openly serve, and lifting the ban on women in combat roles," said Wells. "We are definitely on the right track but we still have plenty of opportunities to explore."

The collective effort of men, women and the large number of nationalities has only added to the efficiency that the armed services have worked so hard to maintain. Something that was once seen as controversial now stands as the embodiment of Air Force and military lifestyle.

"We may have had problems earlier in our young Air Force but now the mixed blend of different people with so many ideas working together to solve issues to make us a better war fighting force," said Senior Airman Marvin Wigfall, 86th Airlift Wing public affairs broadcaster.