The Biden administration tried to defend Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the U.S. military, but did so without evidence that the initiatives contribute to any progress at all. While Pentagon officials tried to push DEI as a necessary means to make the U.S. military stronger, they had no data to back their claims. Republicans tore apart the administration for not only wasting time, money, and resources on the initiatives, but for causing division and animosity among military members due to the tenets of DEI training.
According to Breitbart, Gil Cisneros, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, argued that DEI is “essential to unit cohesion and trust.” The Army’s Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Agnes Schaefer, added that such cohesion is “the most important indicator of our readiness.” The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Alex Wagner, claimed that DEI initiatives are “informed by science and business best practices, congressional mandates, data-focused policy reviews and assessments, and the lived experiences of Airmen and Guardians.”
However, opponents to DEI initiatives easily debunked their claims by pointing out that there is no data supporting its effectiveness and necessity, nor is there any data showing that it is necessary to bring about cohesion and trust.
House Armed Services Subcommittee for Military Personnel Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN) called out the Department of Defense for spending over six million man hours on DEI training and having nothing to show for it.
When each Biden official said that the DEI initiatives had a “positive” effect on recruitment, Rep. Jack Bergman questioned how the military struggling with recruitment is a good thing. “Awkward silence” filled the room after Bergman’s question.
Still, Biden officials could not even answer the most basic questions about their championed DEI initiatives. Cisneros could not provide answers to Banks’ questions about how much the DOD was spending on the DEI initiatives and how many DOD employees were dedicated to DEI.
In another instance of incompetency, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) questioned why Biden officials took so long to respond to her inquiry regarding the “former DEI chief for the DOD schools, Kelisa Wing, whom the DOD investigated and reassigned to another position after she was caught denigrating white people in several tweets.” Stefanik wanted to know what the DOD found in its investigation, and they would still not provide any information. Citing Wing’s book on “white privilege,” defunding the police, and the Black Lives Matter movement, Cisneros said he had not read the book and did not know if it was available in any DOD school libraries. Stefanik informed him that they were, adding that it is “absolutely unacceptable” that Cisneros has no idea what is going on in the department.
While Democrats continue to defend DEI initiatives in the military, many who oppose it propose a myriad of reasons, but one opponent perhaps summed it up best. Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL), a veteran on the committee, argued that DEI training was not necessary as the military is already diverse.
“I’m a very proud United States Army combat veteran, spent of a lot of my time overseas — happily spent a lot of that in Fort Bragg in the 82nd Airborne Division where I served with a Cambodian gentleman who was born in Cambodia and lived in Los Angeles. I served with a black gentleman who was born in Brooklyn. I served with a Caucasian gentleman who was born in Lombard, Illinois. There was quite a bit of diversity. We came from different walks of life. But what brought us together was not DEI and critical race theory-based training. It was cohesive training and understanding what it was to have increased lethality and bring us together knowing that we would be there to fight and protect one another,” said Mills.
Whatever the motivation for Democrats and the Biden administration to push DEI initiatives in the military, their arguments defending them are severely lacking any substance. From not being able to provide evidence or the data to back their claims that DEI initiatives are effective, Biden officials are only making the case that such an investment is a waste of time and money. Still, despite the DEI initiatives being such a waste of resources, opponents claim that it harms the military, and with recruitment and a looming war, now is not the time to make any sacrifices to the strength of our military.