Brig. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt, Commander, Air Force Recruiting Service

26 MAR 2019 New York
TOPIC: Women

Brig. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt discusses being the first female fighter pilot in the US Air Force and her efforts to create a more balanced and diverse military to confront the challenges of a shifting international security landscape.

On breaking barriers in the military: “I had no interest in being the first. I just wanted to be a fighter pilot. To the Air Force's credit, senior leadership reached out to me and said, ‘Did you really want to fly that Strike Eagle or were you trying to make a point?’ And I said, ‘No, I absolutely want to fly that airplane.’ And they said, ‘Well, if you do, you'll be the first and there will be a lot of attention.’ And I said, “Well, I don’t want any of the attention. I'd rather be number 43 or one where no one was watching, but if those are the terms of the deal, I'll take it.’ I wanted to go fly fighters.”

On bringing diversity to the Air Force: “We are very interested in having a diverse force and it’s a competitive advantage as far as I’m concerned because if I have people sitting around the table that think just like me, when faced with a problem, we’ll come up to a solution really quick, but it will probably be similar to if I just thought about it myself. But if I have a very diverse group of people around that table and they bring different perspectives and different viewpoints, while it takes longer to get to a solution, I guarantee it will be a better solution because we’ll have thought through so many aspects of the problem.”

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