By Elaine Donnelly
President, Center for Military Readiness
The ongoing debate over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2024 has revealed inconvenient truths that voters should know.
The July 10 “Statement of Administration Policy” from the executive Office of Management and Budget strongly opposes a dozen common-sense provisions in the House-passed NDAA, HR 2670, and reveals the Biden administration’s woke agenda.
The administration seeks to defeat specific sections of the NDAA, shown in the House report, which would defund, mitigate, or eliminate woke policies in the military. More “unacceptable” provisions, such as defunding of Defense Department abortion subsidies and transgender surgeries, were added during floor votes on July 14.
Extreme woke policies are dividing and demoralizing the troops and contributing to the ongoing recruiting crisis. Our military is in trouble, but the commander-in-chief and his allies don’t seem to care.
Drag Queens and Diversity
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about a slew of military drag queen events and “story hours” for children on military bases. And while Austin delivered on his commitment to end the drag shows, the administration’s statement opposes legislation to codify that policy.
Austin was overruled again when he recommended Adm. Samuel Paparo, an officer with extensive operational experience, to be the next chief of naval operations (CNO). Instead, President Biden nominated Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be the first female CNO.
Franchetti has served admirably in all her duty assignments, but her minimal record of command experience does not meet the demanding requirements for anyone leading the Navy’s three communities — aviation, submarines, and surface warfare — all of which are facing belligerent adversaries.
According to a Politico “inside” story, presidents do not usually “hand-pick” CNO nominees. Perhaps Biden was influenced by diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) “experts” in the White House, operating under Executive Order 14091, signed this past February.
As the Center for Military Readiness reported in April, Executive Order 14091 authorized a small army of highly paid DEI experts, consultants, equity teams, and advisory committees, all promoting the rights of “underserved communities” — not including white males.
The House NDAA seeks to dismantle this diversity-industrial complex, including chief diversity officers who are empowered to review assignments and promotions to meet percentage-based demographic quotas.
The Biden administration’s statement “strongly opposes” these DEI-mitigating measures, including one to lower the pay grade of DEI political commissars who are currently paid between $82,000 to $183,500 in the Air Force and $144,000 in the Marine Corps.
Discrimination and Trans Insanity
The administration also seeks to defeat measures codifying merit-based principles in military accessions, assignments, and promotions.
What’s more, they oppose efforts to end racial discrimination at the military service academies, but the House NDAA calls for cadets, midshipmen, and other personnel to be evaluated based on “qualifications, performance, integrity, fitness, training, and conduct” rather than “favoritism,” “nepotism,” or quotas.
In addition, the Senate Armed Services Committee-passed version (soon to be taken up on the floor) states that all DOD personnel actions “shall be based exclusively on individual merit and demonstrated performance.”
The administration opposes these reasonable provisions, along with NDAA provisions addressing transgender policies that came up during a confirmation hearing on July 11.
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., spoke to Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. — nominated to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — about his response to the situation in which a South Dakota female National Guard boot camp trainee was forced to live in open-bay barracks and shower with physically intact biological men.
Brown said he would “look at” the situation and do what he has always done when personnel feel uncomfortable — in other words, an admission that nothing will change.
Multiple times in only 22 pages, DOD Instruction 1300.28, “In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members,” states that a service member whose gender marker has been changed “will use those berthing, bathroom, and shower facilities associated with his or her gender marker in DEERS [Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System].”
Training vignettes clearly indicate that military women who feel uncomfortable with physically intact men in their showers are just supposed to get used to it.
So much for the administration statement claiming they are “developing and maintaining a dignified, respectful, and safe workplace.”
Covid and CRT Mandates
Several NDAA measures to repair the damage done to individuals under Covid-19 mandates are on the administration’s hit list.
This uncaring posture reveals White House spokesman John Kirby’s disingenuous assertion that taking “care” of military men and women, especially those seeking subsidized abortions, is a “sacred” duty of the Department of Defense.
On critical race theory (CRT) instructions, the administration opposes House NDAA measures to defund CRT programs that teach military personnel and children that any race is superior or inferior to any other.
It would also prevent skewed teaching of American history — children should not be subject to the lie that the United States is a fundamentally racist country with racist founding documents.
The policy statement affirms administration support for divisive, demoralizing CRT instructions. Consistent with woke ideology, the administration likely will oppose late-arriving House legislation barring “unapproved flags” (think “pride progress” banners) waving over military posts and ships.
The Biden administration’s goal is to reaffirm and expand wokeism in the military. They aim to take “progressive” policies to extremes and impose them with coercion, even if it hurts the institution.
Changing the Military Climate
It is no surprise then, that the administration opposes NDAA provisions that would pull the military back from extreme climate change measures, including extensive electrification of military vehicles and costly regulations on DOD contractors regarding “greenhouse gas emissions.”
Biden’s people also want the military to pursue high “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) scores, even though ESG pursuits have been ruinous for private companies such as Disney and Bud Light, and misguided nations like Sri Lanka and the Netherlands.
The Biden administration’s leftist positions are crystal clear, and left-wing lawmakers insist that the annual defense bill will not pass unless negotiators remove the targeted measures.
Congress, however, has the constitutional power and responsibility to make constructive course corrections before it is too late.
Elaine Donnelly is President of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that reports on and analyzes military and social issues.