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The military doesn't need diversity, equity and inclusion

House Republicans voted to end diversity, equity and inclusion programs and personnel at the Pentagon, and one wonders whether the U.S. military will ever be the same.

The provision was one of a number of anti-"woke" measures in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act -- including reversing the Pentagon's new abortion-enabling paid travel and leave policies -- that have occasioned sputtering outrage.

According to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, there's no way that President Joe Biden would ever sign such legislation "that would put our troops at greater risk or put our readiness at risk."

America's leaders used to worry that we wouldn't have enough stopping power to defend against Soviet tanks potentially pouring through the Fulda Gap or a survivable nuclear force in the event of a nuclear first strike; now they worry servicemembers might not be learning enough about microaggressions.

Last year, Bishop Garrison, serving at the time as the senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense for human capital and diversity, equity and inclusion, said that diversity, equity and inclusion needs to be part of every decision that the military makes -- it's a "force multiplier," and will make the military more lethal.

It's not clear how this could possibly be true. Is the Marine operating a howitzer going to be more proficient if he's familiar with the work of Ibram X. Kendi? Will our fighter pilots be better at aerial warfare if they think the U.S. is defined by systemic racism? Are our submariners lacking so long as they don't know that it's supposedly offensive to ask someone with an accent where he or she is from?

If diversity training is so crucial to a fighting force, maybe we should stop sending so many munitions to Ukraine and ship the embattled country PowerPoint presentations on equity instead?

The U.S. military has been a model for decades of how to build a racially diverse institution that is united by common purpose and standards. That doesn't mean it is perfect -- nothing is -- but it was notably diverse long before anyone thought it needed diversity, equity and inclusion training.

Thankfully, by its standards, the Pentagon doesn't spend much on diversity, equity and inclusion. It requested just $115 million in 2023, although that was an increase of nearly $30 million.

This suggests that the personnel and programming around diversity, equity and inclusion can be easily axed, and they should be.

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a scammy fad that has ballooned into a more than $3 billion industry even though there's no solid evidence that it works, and it may well make things worse.

As the left-of-center author and podcaster Jesse Singal writes, diversity, equity and inclusion programs often "seem geared more toward sparking a revolutionary re-understanding of race relations than solving organizations' specific problems. And they often blame white people -- or their culture -- for harming people of color."

Why does the military, of all institutions, need that?

At the very least, diversity, equity and inclusion is another administrative burden. A recent report on the fighting culture of the U.S. Navy prepared at the direction of Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and several Republican congressmen noted that "non-combat curricula consume Navy resources, clog inboxes, create administrative quagmires, and monopolize precious training time."

At worst, it is injecting a poisonous ideology into a fighting force that needs to look past racial and other divisions and needs to believe in this country's worth.

Those who want diversity, equity and inclusion in the armed forces either can't distinguish between the military and an elite liberal arts college, or want it to be corrupted by the same rotten ideas.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said the National Defense Authorization Act shows "that extreme MAGA Republicans are willing to even detonate the ability of our military to do what it needs to do to keep us safe."

To the contrary, it is progressives who want the military to bend to their ideological imperatives. We aren't going to deter or -- if it comes to that -- defeat an adversary like China with diversity, equality and inclusion trainers or self-flagellating nonsense about our society's supposed irredeemable flaws.

Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.

(c) 2023 by King Features Synd., Inc.


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