Sen. Eric Schmitt on Wednesday tore into Pentagon leaders for defending an agenda that stresses issues like diversity and inclusion, which he warned is dividing warfighters and politicizing the world’s greatest military force.
“The offspring of identity politics, which is incredibly divisive, has now made its way through DEI trainings in these branches,” Schmitt, R-Mo., said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, referring to the Pentagon’s diversity, equity and inclusion agenda.
“It is naive to believe that this is not divisive among recruits or people in the military.”
“We have heard from members of the military who have said that they resent being subjected to this. This totem pole of grievances, this oppressor vs. oppressed.”
Schmitt spoke after a handful of military witnesses downplayed complaints about a “woke” agenda at the Pentagon, which Republicans said is contributing to the difficult recruiting environment for all service branches.
“The Department of Defense (DOD) must put at least as much effort into solving the recruiting crisis as it has into other initiatives like extremism, diversity, equity and inclusion and abortion,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the top Republican on the committee. “These initiatives are at best a distraction. At worst, they dissuade young people from enlisting.”
Democrats and Biden administration witnesses rejected these GOP assertions and cited other factors, such as record-low unemployment that make it harder to fill the volunteer ranks, rising obesity rates and lower test scores that are lowering the number of qualified recruits, and a general lack of interest among younger Americans in serving.
Committee Chairman Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., cited a Pentagon survey that said only 5% of respondents were worried about “woke” policies in the military.
“Diversity and inclusion strengthen our military,” Reed said. “By every measure, America’s military is more lethal and ready than it has ever been. It is also more diverse and inclusive than ever before. And this is not a coincidence.”
But Schmitt and other Republicans rejected the idea that pursuing a social agenda somehow leads to more lethality and said the stream of social policy dictates and extremism “stand-downs” are dividing service members and destroying the military’s capability, not enhancing it.
“This obsession with the equity agenda that you all are defending today with just sort of a word salad is divisive. I don’t know what ‘develop initiatives that have measurable outcome metrics based on equity’ means,” Schmitt said. “And by chasing this, it’s driving a wedge in the military.” . . . (read more on Fox News)
TO RECEIVE TESTIMONY ON THE RECRUITING CHALLENGES FACING THE UNITED STATES MILITARY (Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 22 March 2023)
An Open Letter to my Fellow Army General Officers by BG Chris Petty, USA ret
How Today’s “Diversity” Damages our Military by BG Chris Petty, USA ret