The Pentagon has begun to form review committees to address racial diversity and equal opportunity in the military, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Thursday.

Esper announced the new Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion in the Military in a statement. The six-month review will provide recommendations to increase diversity and equal opportunity across ranks.

The announcement came after Esper criticized the president for his push to use the military to control widespread riots. Esper previously said he didn’t realize he was walking with President Donald Trump to St. John’s Episcopal Church after it was set ablaze during George Floyd protests.

Floyd died in police custody after a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking nationwide protests and riots.

Esper also announced plans to create a Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity & Inclusion in the Armed Force Services. He said he aims have it ready by the end of 2020.

The Defense Advisory Committee will expand and later replace the Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion in the Military and periodically update Esper on their actions and research, he added.

“The approved initiatives that come out of the Board, and later the Advisory Committee that replaces it, will provide updates on action items, along with associated metrics, covered in the quarterly readiness briefings that are presented to me by the chain of command. In short, this issue will have my personal time and attention every step of the way,” Esper said.

Additionally, Pentagon staff will consult Esper until the end of June for immediate changes.

“Finally, I have directed the civilian and uniformed leadership of the Pentagon to bring me ideas in the next two weeks – by the end of June – that we can begin implementing NOW, such as removing photos from promotion, school, and command selection boards – this is something I pushed as Secretary of the Army, as we worked to overhaul our personnel system,” Esper said.

“Removing bias and prejudice in all its forms, and ensuring equal opportunity and respect for all will make us stronger, more capable, and more ready as a joint force,” Esper said.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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