Senate Republicans grilled Gen. Charles Q. Brown over racial politics and transgenderism throughout the U.S. military during a committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Brown, who serves as Air Force chief of staff, was nominated by President Joe Biden to replace Gen. Mark Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in May.
Among the more contentious issues raised during Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing was an August 2022 Air Force memo Brown signed, directing the Air Force Academy and Air Education and Training Command to “develop a diversity and inclusion outreach plan” aimed at “achieving a force more representative of our Nation.” When pressed on the memo by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., Brown claimed the recruiting targets stratified by race and sex in the memo are based “on application goals, not the make-up of the force,” and that “those numbers are based on the demographics of the nation.”
As The Federalist previously reported, Brown has a documented history of supporting the same so-called “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) ideology wreaking havoc on the U.S. military. DEI initiatives employ a divisive and poisonous ideology dismissive of merit to discriminate based on characteristics such as skin color and sexual attraction.
While participating in a virtual discussion hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in November 2020, for instance, Brown indicated that “[a]t the higher level of the Air Force, diversity ha[d] moved to the forefront of personnel decisions such as promotions and hiring.” During the same event, the Air Force general also admitted to using his post to increase opportunities for so-called “diverse candidates” in the Air Force, saying he “hire[d] for diversity” when building his staff.
Brown has also previously pushed back against congressional Republicans who have expressed concerns about the Biden administration’s attempt to spread DEI instruction throughout the military.
“This administration has infused abortion politics into our military, Covid politics into our military, DEI politics into our military, and it is a cancer on the best military in the history of the world. Those men and women deserve better than this,” Schmitt said. “I believe we … ought to be recruiting in various areas to make sure we have the best and the brightest from every community. … But that’s not what DEI is.”
Schmitt further admonished DEI as “an ideology based in cultural Marxism” and expressed concerns about how the military can continue to have leadership that advocates for “this divisive policy.”
The Center for Military Readiness, a public policy group that analyzes military matters, sent a letter to committee members on Monday, encouraging them to press Brown on issues such as “[r]acial discrimination known to exist in military service academy admissions” and “[m]andates to increase percentages of minority persons, while consciously reducing non-minority (white males) in aviation and other demanding occupations,” among other things.
Schmitt also raised the issue of the more than 8,000 U.S. service members kicked out of the military for not getting the experimental Covid jab due to medical or religious reasons. When pressed on how he would personally recruit these individuals back into service, Brown said he would “provide them the opportunity to re-apply.”
“I just don’t think that’s good enough,” Schmitt replied. “We did a great disservice to this country by firing people because they made that decision. I think they ought to be reinstated with rank and backpay. I have not heard that from anybody that’s come before this committee.”
Another problem raised during the hearing was transgenderism in the military. Shortly after his inauguration, Biden issued an executive order allowing transgender-identifying individuals to serve in the U.S. armed forces, marking a policy reversal from that of the Trump administration.
During his line of questioning, Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., referenced an alleged “young woman in the South Dakota National Guard [who] experienced a situation at basic training where she was sleeping in open bays and showering” with female-identifying males who had not undergone surgery, “but were documented as females because they had begun the drug therapy process.”
According to Rounds, this 18-year-old woman “was uncomfortable with her situation but had limited options on how to deal with it” because “she feared she’d be targeted for retaliation.” When asked how he would handle such issues as Joint Chiefs chair, Brown didn’t offer a specific answer, instead saying that “as you’re being inclusive, you also don’t want to make other individuals uncomfortable” and that if confirmed, he would “take a look to see if [the military] can improve on how [it] approach[es] situations like this.”
Meanwhile, several Democrats spent their time attacking fellow committee member Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who has been holding up Biden’s DOD civilian and general flag officer nominees in response to the Pentagon’s radical abortion policies. As The Federalist’s Jordan Boyd previously reported, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “announced in February that the taxpayer-funded Pentagon would grant up to three weeks of paid time off and travel for U.S. military members and their family members to obtain abortions.”
According to Tuberville, the policy — which “would subsidize thousands of ‘non-covered abortions‘” without congressional authorization or taxpayer approval — is “immoral and arguably illegal.”
“One of my colleagues is exercising a prerogative to place a hold on 250 generals and flag officers. I’m unaware of anything that they have done … that would warrant them being disrespected or punished or delayed in their careers,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said in reference to Tuberville. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., also criticized Tuberville, with Rosen indirectly accusing the Alabama senator of partaking in an “extreme, anti-choice agenda.”
A committee vote on Brown’s confirmation will be held at a later date.