DOD Open Letter Woke Agenda

Open Letter to top General: Military must slay the ‘DEI beast’

By Lt. Col. James G. Zumwalt, USMC ret

Gen. Charles Q. Brown:

With your swearing in as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), you are to be congratulated, sir, on reaching the pinnacle of success for a career military officer.

Obviously, your selection was based on qualifications President Joe Biden felt accommodated his policies. Becoming Chief of Staff (CoS) of the Air Force in August 2020, you began demonstrating this accommodation by meeting his diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) mandate.

While serving as Air Force CoS, you tackled an issue the Air Force Academy’s last football coach, Fisher DeBerry, addressed in 2005. Following a 48-10 drubbing by Texas Christian University (TCU) in a losing season, a frustrated DeBerry explained the team’s lack of success. Recognizing black players’ superior athleticism, on average, DeBerry said TCU “had a lot more Afro-American players than we did, and they ran a lot faster. …”

DeBerry had identified the problem of under-recruiting blacks. Despite becoming the winningest coach in service academy history, he retired in 2006 after suffering another losing season – but got the ball rolling on black recruitment.

But the media saw DeBerry’s 2005 comment as racist. He was eventually reprimanded for not being politically correct. Times change, and years later your commitment to reduce the number of white officers by 9% did not trigger similar criticism.

Troy Calhoun replaced DeBerry in 2007 and remains the coach today. Black players gave his teams a boost – he has only experienced three losing seasons and may replace DeBerry as the winningest coach. The last two years, Calhoun’s teams were 10-3 with this year’s team undefeated at 6-0.

As of June 30, 2021, representation of the active-duty Air Force was 71% white and 15% black. Today’s Air Force football team goes far beyond that representation in the number of black players.

If asked, however, whether Coach Calhoun’s selection process for fielding starting players is driven by DEI, you undoubtedly would be told it is not – it is strictly talent.

The sole mission of any football team is to win – a result successfully achieved only by fielding such talent, giving zero consideration to race.

Calhoun has proven very successful at recognizing the most talented players and fielding them accordingly.

In 2018, a Marine Corps general raised the issue of safety related to graduating military trainees of a minority group, unable to meet the grueling physical course standards demanded of all infantrymen, simply to answer the call for diversity.

The issue related to the inability of women to successfully complete the 15-week Infantry Officer Course.

Of specific concern was whether the “dangerously poor performance” of a particular female student should entitle her to continue on, possibly endangering the safety of other Marines were she allowed to graduate.

It was decided safety should trump gender, which is why today there are only nine female Marines serving as infantry officers. It explains too why the first woman to try out for the NFL failed to make the cut.

And, speaking of the NFL, what about these football coaches? Do they rely on DEI? Absolutely not. Again, their sole mission is to win, and the only way to do so is fielding the best talent, regardless of race. The NFL does, however, prove DeBerry’s politically incorrect statement of 2005 was correct as a vast majority of NFL players are black. On average, they obviously possess superior athletic skills compared to their white counterparts.

While DEI has been promoted to instill fairness in a system progressives claim is rigged against minorities, overlooked is its own negative consequence.

A recent investigative report by Bloomberg reported a shocking development: “The year after Black Lives Matter protests, the S&P 100 added more than 300,000 jobs – (of which) 94% went to people of color.” Only 6% of these jobs went to whites, who comprise 77% of the U.S. workforce.

Is this equity or discrimination?

Of additional concern is a new report’s disturbing conclusion concerning losses in learning capabilities among students during the COVID pandemic: All school districts with DEI officers incurred greater losses.

Minority students – supposed beneficiaries of DEI – actually suffered greater losses in academic performance than schools not employing such officers as the focus was more on political activity and messaging rather than academic performance. The fact 48% of all school districts now have these officers means a significant number of students are being denied the best education possible.

I would remind you, sir, of Medal of Honor recipient Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s 1962 speech in which he set out the sole mission of the military, despite changes occurring around it:

“And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable – it is to win our wars. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment; but you are the ones who are trained to fight; yours is the profession of arms – the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed. …”

For all intents and purposes, DEI is another name for affirmative action – a policy the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional, favoring blacks over Asians and whites in college admissions.

Additionally, a lawsuit has now been filed against West Point for basing its admissions on race as well. Numerous colleges and corporations, recognizing the unfairness of DEI, have been abandoning the program. It will not be long before DEI goes the way of affirmative action either voluntarily or by court mandate.

You, sir, actually underscored the bottom line for merit over DEI in a statement you made during your Senate confirmation hearing concerning your personal goal as a pilot: “I didn’t want to be the best African-American F-16 pilot, I wanted to be the best F-16 pilot.” I would submit that such a goal is sought by all pilots, but the playing field must be completely leveled to reach it fairly.

I do have a dog in this fight, sir. My family has a proud tradition of military service going back to the American Revolution, begun by Jacob Zumwalt, continuing through every conflict of the 20th century and on into the 21st century as my son, James, a bomb technician, became the fourth generation of the family to be awarded the Bronze Star – his earned for defusing over 150 roadside bombs.

Yet, despite this history, I am reluctant to advise my grandchildren to continue the tradition of a military that prioritizes wokeness over talent.

Gen. Brown, for the next four years, you – more so than anyone else – will have authority to determine whether talent or racial preference becomes the standard for determining who fights for us on tomorrow’s battlefields.

You promised during your Senate confirmation hearing to keep politics out of the military. By definition, DEI is a political beast undermining the military’s effort to field the most talented fighting force.

For the military, that beast now must be slain. Ignoring merit denies a level playing field for all – tilting it, instead, toward a “favored” race.

Coach Calhoun has done a tremendous job of fielding football teams based purely on talent. Our military need do the same.


Lt. Col. James G. Zumwalt is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of three books on the Vietnam war, North Korea and Iran as well as hundreds of op-eds.

First published on WND

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