Posted on August 10, 2021

Navy Could Return to Using Photos for Promotions, Personnel Chief Says

Caitlin Doornbos, Stars and Stripes, August 3, 2021

The Navy could include service photos in promotion packages again after data suggested minorities are less likely to be selected blindly in some situations by promotion review boards, the service’s chief of personnel said Tuesday.

Diversity among leadership dropped after photos were removed last year from Navy promotion packages, Vice Adm. John Nowell said during a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference.

“I think we should consider reinstating photos in selection boards,” he said. “We look at, for instance, the one-star board over the last five years, and we can show you where, as you look at diversity, it went down with photos removed.”

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper directed all services in July 2020 to eliminate photos from promotion and selection boards to support diversity in the ranks. But Nowell said adding them back could do more to build a more diverse leadership force.


The Marine Corps is also “looking at reinstating the photos,” Brig. Gen. A.T. Williamson, director of the service’s manpower plans and policy division, said during the panel discussion.

“There are elements of the photo that are … very helpful for us. I think that we may find that we may have disadvantaged individuals by removing those photos from the boards.”


The comments come as the Defense Department works to address extremism and promote diversity in the military. {snip}