Air Force Recruiting Service announced the establishment of a program designed to increase diversity in ranks of the two services while attracting the next generation of Airmen and Guardians.
The program dubbed “GO Inspire” began Jan. 1 and rallies general officers to hit the streets with teams of top Airmen and Guardians to inform, influence and inspire young Americans for military service.
“Increasing diversity and attracting the best talent across our Air and Space Forces is a warfighting imperative for our nation, and as such, general officer leadership is critical,” wrote Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond in a memo directing the program.
GO Inspire, with “GO” standing for general officer, is specifically designed for Air and Space Force generals to get out and engage youth and youth influencers from underrepresented groups, or URGs, across the nation. The goal, according to AFRS leadership, is to increase the diversity of its applicant pool in the rated and space communities, as well as the broader Air and Space Forces.
Officials from both services believe that early engagement is key to more diverse leaders in the future.
“We must embrace a culture where every general officer is a recruiter,” the three leaders wrote. “In order to ensure our future force is ready, lethal and reflective of the society which we serve, we must better engage our communities. The responsibility to inspire, engage and recruit the next generation of Air and Space Force professionals starts with senior leaders.”
While the focus of the program is increasing community and youth engagement by the two services’ top leadership, the department is banking on the support team that will accompany the senior leaders to help inspire the younger generation.
“The program is as much about the young, sharp Airmen and Guardians our senior leaders take with them to school and community visits than it is about having a general show up and talk about service in the Air or Space Force,” said the department’s top recruiter, Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, AFRS commander.
Thomas said the intent of the GO Inspire program is for every youth to have an opportunity to connect with someone they can identify with. That may be based on race or gender but it could also be where they grew up or simply finding someone who’s accomplished their dream.
“GO Inspire gets after this by asking general officers to develop a diverse team of individuals to attend their outreach events with them,” Thomas said. “AFRS’s Aviation Inspiration Mentorship (AIM) team is an asset that GO’s can request to bring with them on their outreach events. AIM members are rated officers trained in youth outreach and how to inform, influence, and inspire.”
The GO Inspire was in many ways motivated by the Air Force chief of staff’s Rated Diversity Improvement initiative tasker to develop a program for Air and Space Force general officers to seek out, when appropriate, and conduct outreach engagements. The goal of GO Inspire is to connect general officers to identified AFRS needs and opportunities that will further attract and recruit high-quality youth from across America.
“GO Inspire is designed to drive a culture change in the Air and Space Forces. Our department leadership has a vision that all general officers would embrace a culture to ‘Earn a star … become a recruiter,’” said Lt. Col. Annie Driscoll, AFRS Detachment 1 commander. “With a comprehensive approach that starts at the top of our chain of command, together we can better reach our nation’s youth and their influencers.”
To ensure the Air and Space Forces continue to recruit the best and brightest across America, Det. 1 seeks to actively inspire, engage and inform youth and those who influence them.
“GO Inspire is the framework that structures general officer outreach efforts, connects them to recruiters and recruiting efforts, and adds precision guidance to where efforts can be placed to reach areas that need it most,” Driscoll added.
The GO Inspire program will be asking general officers from all of the total force components to take part and contribute.
“The program encourages general officers to personally interact and inform youth influencers and youth on training, education, camaraderie and a variety of job opportunities available, as well as share some of the amazing experiences and accomplishments of Airmen Guardians,” said Lt. Col. Lara Wilson, AFRS Det. 1, chief of diversity and inclusion. “All of our general officers, to include active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Space Force are being asked to participate and those who have heard about the GO Inspire program are excited and eager to get started.”
In order to become the most capable force, Air and Space Force leadership feels they must have rated officers and leaders with diverse backgrounds, experiences and thoughts who can see the challenges from different perspectives.
Det. 1 has a goal to get in front of every demographic group in America and show them someone in a flight suit who looks like them that they can look up to. GO Inspire officers conducting events are encouraged to bring a team that will give a broad representation of Air and Space Force officers.
“We encourage the GOs to use Det. 1’s AIM team,” Driscoll said. “The AIM team can relate and engage well with those we are trying to reach. General officers are highly encouraged to take time to mentor their outreach team.”
While the GO Inspire program is set to kick off in January, some of the benefits of the program —especially when it comes to inspiring young people for service — may not be realized for years.
“The department’s intent is that every Total Force GO will execute one or two events a year,” Driscoll said. “We’ll work with senior leaders to track metrics but the fruits of this labor won’t be measured for years to come. That is the nature of youth engagement. We may still be a decade away from seeing any of these young men or women in uniform. In the meantime, we want every young kid who looks up in the sky and sees an airplane or rocket launch to know that it could be them one day. We also want to help clarify the pathway to that seat in our services for both kids and their influencers.”
While the GO Inspire program is a call to action for general officers, all Airmen are encouraged to do their part to actively recruit for the Air Force.
We Are All Recruiters, or WEAR, is a program which grants active-duty Airmen permissive temporary duty status to participate in an event that helps Air Force recruiting efforts. Approval for WEAR is limited to those events where Airmen are directly speaking to potential applicants or influencers about Air Force opportunities.
“Regardless of rank or position, the Air and Space Force’s greatest recruiters are our service members,” Thomas said. “I encourage each and every Airman to participate in the WEAR program.”
For more information on the WEAR program, visit: https://www.recruiting.af.mil/WEAR/.