June 04, 2020

Duckworth Introduces Bill to Evaluate Barriers Facing Minorities Looking to Serve in Elite Forces


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today introduced the Equality in Leadership and Inclusion in Top Elements (ELITE) Act of 2020 that would require the Department of Defense to conduct a study through a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) on the barriers facing minorities from serving in certain elite units of the Armed Forces, including pilots and special operations. Representative Anthony G. Brown (D-MD-04) has introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Our military is stronger because of the diversity of those who serve in it and right now, minority servicemembers are disproportionately underrepresented across all of our elite forces,” said Duckworth. “Those willing to wear the uniform of our nation should be encouraged to serve in the ways that accomplish their goals and dreams. I’m proud to introduce this bill to look into the roadblocks minorities face when joining elite forces and start finding ways to break down those barriers.”

Senator Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Specifically, the ELITE Act would direct the Secretary of Defense to commission a FFRDC study within 30 days of enacting the Act. The study would:

  • Identify the current minority composition of elite Armed Forces units;
  • Compare minority rates in non-elite units;
  • Identify barriers to minority participation;
  • Evaluate the status and effectiveness of the 1999 RAND recommendations;
  • Provide recommendations to increase the number of minorities in the Armed Forces in general and within the Special Forces community.

The results of the study would be required to be submitted to Congress by January 1, 2022 and the Secretary of Defense would be required to act on the implementation of the recommendations, request an extension, or justify non-implementation by March 1, 2023.