More than 160 retired generals and admirals recently signed a letter calling on Congress to remove so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs from the Department of Defense and remove funding for such programs from the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“As our Nation faces looming threats from ‘foreign’ adversaries/enemies, our military is under assault from a culture war stemming from ‘domestic’ ideologically inspired political policies and practices. … Our military must be laser focused on one mission — readiness, undiminished by the culture war engulfing our country,” Flag Officers 4 America wrote in the letter addressed to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Armed Services Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers, and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert.
The signatories — which included former National Security Advisor John Poindexter, Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense William Gerald Boykin — expressed concern about how divisive and discriminatory DEI policies affect national security. So-called “equity,” they wrote, “sounds benign, but in practice it lowers standards. While equality provides equal opportunities, equity’s goal is equal outcomes.”
The officers argued that equal opportunity and meritocracy provide the greatest foundation for both equality and national defense, while the cultural Marxism promoted by DEI policies is a domestic threat to our national security.
“To achieve equal outcomes using identity group characteristics, standards must be lowered to accommodate the desired equity outcomes. Lower standards reduce performance where even slight differences in capability impact readiness and can determine war fighting mission success or failure,” they wrote. Furthermore, obsession with identity causes “friction and distrust in the ranks, damaging unit cohesion, teamwork and unity of effort, further degrading readiness.”
Instead of DEI, the signatories advocated for a return to longstanding meritocratic military recruitment standards, pointing to a long history of true inclusivity and diversity that accompanied those standards.
“Service Members (SMs) were judged not by the color of their skin but by their character, duty performance, and potential,” the officers explained. “Meritocracy, coupled with equal opportunity, created conditions for all to advance and excel, which stimulates healthy competition, thereby raising standards.”
According to the retired officers, meritocracy is “essential for winning,” and at a time when America faces looming foreign threats, the last thing our military needs is to be distracted by domestic social engineering and “wokeism.”
We have fought for our Nation and are sounding the alarm that DEI poses a grave danger to our military warfighting ethos and is degrading warfighting readiness. … China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are not distracted by DEI programs; no doubt they are watching us. Equal opportunity and merit-based performance have been battle tested for generations and proven essential for success. DEI policies and practices must be eliminated from the DoD to protect our critical warfighting readiness.
The letter comes after the House recently introduced the 2024 NDAA, which as of May 23 does not yet include provisions to remove funding from DEI programs. While the DOD reportedly disbanded its education wing’s DEI initiative in March, the poisonous agenda has subsequently burrowed deeper into the system.