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The Problem with a ‘Woke’ Military

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U.S. Army paratroopers with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, participate in a pass-and-review during a change of command ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C., June 26, 2019. (Specialist Hubert D. Delany III/US Army) A push for progressive policies in the military bureaucracy threatens the unity and meritocracy that make our armed forces effective.

I used to belong to a war-fighting organization, where we were taught a shared set of Army values. We were taught mission accomplishment before all else, enforced by “mission first and people always.” Within the Department of Defense (DoD) Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan we are told that “diversity is a strategic imperative — critical to mission readiness and accomplishment.” We are also told, by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, that it must be a priority for the military “to look like America and not only in the ranks, but our leadership should look like America.” On the surface, this sounds okay. But it flips what had long been a soldier’s commitment to the Army and mission: The new priority turns the Army into a social experiment at the cost of mission readiness. The new push within the DoD for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goes well beyond measures to ensure equal opportunity and instead looks to create preferences that have nothing to do with merit. Our military will suffer if it does not change course.

Believing that the Army should be and has been the best example of a meritocracy in the history of the world has become a forbidden position. The only acceptable position now is full acceptance of all elements of DEI. Examples abound, from the more benign recent recruiting messages depicting cartoon stories — one of an “activist” soldier — all the way to creating a new permanent DEI infrastructure to push policies in line with critical race theory. That I am not allowed to openly hold the position that war-fighting and combat readiness should be the Army’s top priority, while being force-fed a radical DEI agenda, demonstrates the open erosion of mission-first principles within the military.

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