Institutional groupthink and delusion have become endemic at the Pentagon. It started on Inauguration Day, 2021, when President Joe Biden directed all government agencies to devise and enforce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mandates.
“Diversity” and “nondiscrimination” are important, but percentage-based “equity” goals differ from “equality.” Additional Biden administration orders reversed President Donald Trump’s nuanced policy regarding transgender military personnel and erased Trump’s directive eliminating controversial critical race theory (CRT) instruction programs.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin quickly ordered worldwide “anti-extremist” standdown sessions, which featured divisive CRT themes and unresolvable accusations of “systemic racism” or “white supremacy.” The demoralizing sessions diverted 5.3 million man-hours from normal operations, but investigators found fewer than 100 extremists among 2 million servicemembers.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., and other lawmakers have received hundreds of messages and reports of “egregiously inappropriate” CRT training sessions. Judicial Watch obtained numerous documents confirming CRT indoctrination at West Point and is suing for more from the Naval Academy.
The Air Force Academy sparked controversy with a “diversity and inclusion” slide show combining platitudes with odd suggestions for “inclusive language,” such as “parents, caregivers, or guardians” instead of “Mom” and “Dad.”
More seriously, the CRT-influenced presentation disparaged the word “colorblind.” That characterization radically departs from the colorblind principles of Martin Luther King Jr., and President Harry Truman’s 1948 executive order ending discrimination in the military.
Claiming that the presentation had been taken out of context, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark wrote, “We should respect everyone’s situation and not make assumptions.” This was ironic since CRT instructions are built on assumptions and stereotypes. Prejudgments based on sex or skin color alone define what prejudice is.
Discrimination Against White Males
Denials of woke-ism ring false when the academy hosts seminars like “Transgender Visibility and Awareness in our Air Force,” while excluding “cisgender men” from the academy’s Brooke Owens Fellowship program — a nine-week paid internship for cadets interested in aerospace.
Now the program is reserved for women and “non-binary, agender, bigender, two-spirit, demigender, genderfluid, genderqueer, or another form of gender minority.” This type of brazen discrimination smacks of woke-ism, and it is not unique.
Red State reports that the Air Force was short 1,650 pilots in 2021, but officials plan to reduce white officers from 80 percent to 67.5 percent. They also plan to decrease white male pilots, currently 86 percent, by dropping prior flight training as a “plus” factor for selection.
Why would an experienced white male pilot join or stay in the Air Force knowing he will be the target of racial discrimination, especially when commercial airlines offer generous family and financial advantages?
The Army ended fiscal year 2021 short 15,000 recruits (25 percent), and the other services barely made their goals by accelerating delayed-entry recruits. This will make it harder to meet objectives next year, but Pentagon leaders expect recruiters to spend more time and resources trying to attract female prospects with a lower propensity to serve.
Woke-ism also manifests in disastrous Covid-19 vaccine mandates. Thousands of potential recruits, cadets, and experienced personnel have been rejected or discharged for expressing medical or religious objections. Each one conveys an “anti-recruiting” message to the military’s prime “market,” patriotic families with traditional values.
Instead of repairing bonds with that core constituency, Pentagon officials keep catering to LGBT activists. “Pride” events are proliferating on military bases, sometimes with “family friendly” drag queen performances and “story hours.”
Denials of biological reality descend into incoherence. Woke transgender training requires sex-confused pronouns, and Selective Service is registering men identifying as “women,” but not transgender “men” who have female DNA.
CRT Reaffirmed in DOD Schools and Academies
Now comes “anti-racist” activist Kelisa Wing, the new director of diversity and inclusion programs in the Department of Defense Education Activity — the largest K-12 school system in the world. Wing has authored several CRT books and tweets promoting racial “revolution,” defunding the police, and anti-white attitudes.
Military children who otherwise might follow their parents’ service in uniform could be dissuaded by teachings such as this — another problem for recruiters. And many military children, a mostly captive audience whose parents must follow orders, will be exposed to even more transgender culture and controversial “gender affirming” treatments.
Also under current policies, male service academy athletes could dominate female cadets’ athletic teams, worsening declining applications. The Air Force Academy reports 28 percent fewer applicants for the Class of 2026, while West Point and Annapolis received 10 percent and 20 percent less, respectively.
Ignoring all this, Defense Secretary Austin expanded the Pentagon’s military diversity complex. Retired Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles, who chaired the notorious 2011 Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC), will head the Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (DACODAI).
Gen. Lyles’ multi-volume MLDC report, which presaged today’s woke military, recommended women in the infantry and “chief diversity officers” to ensure high-rank promotions only for candidates who fully support “diversity” metrics and the new definition of “equity” as group rights, not individual rights.
The concept, said the MLDC, is “not about treating everyone the same. This can be a difficult concept to grasp … especially for leaders who grew up with EO-inspired mandate to be both color and gender blind.”
The Pentagon does not need yet another DEI report stacked on top of countless diversity plans, blueprints, and directives. Most reports earnestly proclaim, in some form, “diversity is a strategic (or operational) imperative.” Special Operations Command’s 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan repeated that mantra 12 times on 20 pages.
Diverse working groups are beneficial, but most DEI manifestos cite studies having nothing to do with military requirements. The Air Force Academy slide show and Task Force One Navy report footnoted studies analyzing civilian business teams, not military fighting units.
Is there a cure for this military woke syndrome? Yes, but the first step in solving a problem is to acknowledge it exists. Instead, Pentagon officials keep emulating Baghdad Bob with dissembling denials of woke policies that are weakening morale and cohesion. The all-volunteer force needs new leaders who will restore clear thinking and sound priorities before it is too late.