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

Published on26 MAR 2019

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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