Diversity unites, strengthens the force

Kentucky-state-seal

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Anybody know what the Kentucky state slogan is?  Hint: It’s on the state flag.

Give up?  Check this out: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Pretty basic stuff, huh?  Like most old sayings, there’s wisdom in those words.  In this case they surround a depiction of the statesman and the frontiersman shaking hands.   At the time of the flag’s creation there was great tension between these two social classes; only by working together were these two diverse groups able to create this thing we call the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

A lot has happened since 1792.  Kentucky’s militia evolved into the National Guard, and these days our troops routinely deploy around the world in defense of our nation.  A far cry from the vision of our forebearers, no doubt.

The diversity of the force has expanded as well.  Men and women of all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds now train and work as a team with two basic goals – mission success and coming home safe.

So why the emphasis on diversity, and why now?  It’s simple – just as our founding fathers did before us, we need to be diverse in order to be the best we can be.

“The nation’s talent pool is finite and the number eligible to serve in uniform is low,” said Lt. Col. Tinagay Riddle, State Diversity Initiatives Advisor for the Kentucky National Guard.  “The Guard competes with schools, private industry, other federal agencies and military services.  Diversity is the ideal means to get the best team for the mission – a tool for readiness, a force multiplier.”

Riddle works in support of the Guard’s Equal Opportunity Program and spearheads the Diversity Initiative, a position she takes very seriously.

“The idea behind all this is that the more diverse we are, the quicker we will meet those challenges and the better the solutions will be,” she said.  “Given the Kentucky Guard’s track record in Afghanistan, Iraq and here at home during natural disasters and emergencies, it’s an idea that works.”

Riddle cites the diverse make up of the agribusiness development teams, medical detachments and military police units as examples of mission success.

The Battle of Salman Pak

In the 2005 Battle of Salman Pak, a diverse group of Kentucky National Guard Soldiers came together under overwhelming odds to defeat the enemy.

“It’s no surprise to me that one of the most famous acts of valor, the Battle of Salman Pak in 2005, was carried out by a team of men and women of a wide variety of backgrounds.  Black, white, Hispanic – they all came together under enemy fire to face overwhelming odds and they won out.  That’s what I’m talking about.”

Riddle’s ultimate goal is help the Kentucky Guard to recruit, train, and retain a more diverse force to compete for the talents of the twenty-first century.  She works in conjunction with the state’s equal employment manager and is augmented by equal opportunity advisers from each of the six Army major support commands as well as the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing.

“It all goes back to the essence of our state’s motto,” she said.  “By joining together we’ll get the job done; if we don’t, we won’t.”

To find out more about the National Guard’s diversity program or the name of your equal opportunity advisers, contact Riddle at tinagay.riddle@us.army.mil or call her at 502-607-1798.

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