Equal opportunity programs merge within Air Force Published May 20, 2008 Air Force News Agency WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The Air Force's military equal opportunity program and the equal employment opportunity program recently merged as part of an ongoing EO transformation effort. "The Air Force is embarking upon a significant organization transformation that has been long in the making," said Lt. Gen. Dick Newton, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services at the Pentagon. "Merging these programs into one organization equipped and fully staffed to handle any military or civilian discrimination or sexual harassment matter and all affirmative employment and special emphasis initiatives will provide the Air Force with enhanced EO capability that will add to our ability to take care of our people." A full integration of the following programs will occur: military equal opportunity, civilian equal employment opportunity and affirmative employment program, and special emphasis programs. These programs will merge into the Equal Opportunity Office. "Our men and women both military and civilian want an organization they can trust to fulfill their needs," General Newton said. "They also want an organization that is knowledgeable, friendly, eager to assist and easily accessible. Equal Opportunity will not only meet these standards, but I predict will exceed them." The EO transformation initiative was split into several phases. Phase I involves the MEO/EEO integration. This effort is scheduled to conclude in July. The entire EO workforce is receiving formal training on MEO and EEO processes and procedures. This professional development will ensure the EO workforce has the technical knowledge to assist customers with their individual issues. All training is to be completed by the end of May. Phase II actually began in September 2007 when Air Force EO officials held an initial Air Force Smart Operations 21 inspection, which centered on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's annual requirement to report progress of agency affirmative employment programs. Several recommendations were brought forward by participants to try and improve areas Air Force officials needed to improve. Several Headquarters Air Force working groups were formed to develop AF-wide strategies on affirmative employment and special emphasis programs, and focus more attention on identifying and removing barriers to equal opportunity employment. Phase II is scheduled to be completed by end of calendar year 2008. For now, the merging of all equal opportunity programs into one will provide better service for all who serve in the Air Force, both at home and in deployed locations, said General Newton. "This allows for EO offices to take on the programs in a collaborative effort," he said, "resulting in the goal of ensuring the work force is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment of all kinds, expansion of prevention and outreach programs that will help aid in the reduction of EO incidents and complaints, and creating a more diverse Air Force. This will allow the best candidate from any race, gender, belief or walk of life to succeed in the Air Force."