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Navy Task Force Sets An Ambitious Time Frame To Tackle Racial Inequity

Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)...

Credit: United States Department of Defense

Above: Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) as it pulls into its homeport in San Diego, May 7, 2018.

The Navy has set an ambitious time frame to look at systemic racism in the service.

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the Pentagon announced a series of efforts to look at racial bias. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday announced July 1 the Navy would create a 20-member task force headed by Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey.

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The task force has held listening sessions around the country.

“We’re listening to sailors. Everything that they feed to us. They’ve come up with some really good ideas. We’re taking it in and we’re going to put it out there,” Holsey said.

Reported by Steve Walsh

Task Force One Navy is required to look at nine major areas — everything from bias in promotions to disparities in enforcing military justice.

Unlike the Department of Defense, the Navy also wants to examine sexism and discrimination based on religion. Though the report is due by mid-December. Holsey says he believes they have enough time to produce a comprehensive set of recommendations.

“I would argue when it comes to sexism and racism and that stuff, it’s all about respect,” he said. “It’s all about people, seeing people for who they are and accepting them.”

The Navy has set up commissions to examine racial bias and inclusion dating back to at least the Vietnam War. Another member of the task force, Force Master Chief Huben Phillips says he believes this effort will be different.

“After the tragedy of the death of George Floyd I will tell you that a lot of people have been reading and learning and have a thirst for knowledge of what they didn’t know and that’s across all races and I think that is a good thing,” Phillips said.

Task Force One Navy has had listening sessions in Norfolk, Virginia and pier-side at other bases around the country. According to the task force, the Navy expects to add a listening session in San Diego before the report is final.


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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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