By Col. J. Wesley Smith, USA (ret)
The United States Armed Forces exist for two primary missions: to prevent war and to decisively win if war breaks out.
The Department of Defense’s name is significant: The mission of the Pentagon and all uniformed service members—and civilians—is the defense of the United States of America. All other military activities and programs are ancillary to this mission.
Over the last two years, the U.S. military has lost its way due largely to the senior military leaders in the building where I used to work, aided and abetted by civilian appointees and officials in the Biden Administration.
This is not a criticism of the rank-and-file members of the military. They are a courageous lot and understand what selfless service means.
But at the highest levels of military leadership, it is a political game with political appointees—both the civilian leaders and the 4-star flag officers (generals and admirals) in the five-sided building.
Their willingness to parrot the priorities of the Left-leaning Biden White House is rather amazing.
While Pentagon senior leaders have always been political appointees and civilian control of the military is embedded in our constitutional republic, in the past, there was a tradition of the leadership guarding their integrity, giving candid advice irrespective of who was the President, and being as apolitical as possible.
Alas, this is not the case today.
One disturbing example is the epidemic of wokeness infecting the U.S. Armed Forces in the form of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training, which is impacting recruiting and military readiness.
As a result, our ability to fight and win wars is negatively impacted by misplaced priorities.
And it is unnecessary because the fruit of identity politics, DEI training, is incredibly divisive in a force that is normally quite united.
The U.S. military has a well-deserved reputation for already being diverse and inclusive. The military was racially integrated in 1948—long before any civil rights legislation was passed.
I served on the Diversity Commission at the Pentagon. I know firsthand that race, gender, and other personal distinctions do not matter in the U.S. military, which is something of which to be proud.
For example, in my 26 years in the military, if someone wanted to end their career prematurely, they merely needed to express or exhibit sexism—it was not tolerated.
In fact, I served under both courageous and capable female and male officers.
For all of its racial, ethnic, gender, and other diverse makeup, the U.S. Armed Forces are incredibly united. There is a loyalty to one another that is remarkable.
Therefore, it is disturbing and an insult to those who serve to hear senior leaders speak of radicalism in the ranks or to assume that the military is systemically racist or sexist.
Rather, the military could teach the civilian world a lot about diversity and inclusion because they are professionals and experts on the topics.