During a House hearing this week, Pentagon officials defended the Biden administration’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, arguing that these programs would strengthen the military rather than divide it. However, they largely appeared unprepared to present evidence supporting the controversial measures.
Officials including Gil Cisneros, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and the assistant secretaries for manpower and reserve affairs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, all insisted that DEI would positively impact military recruitment and unit cohesion. Yet, despite these assertions, the officials did not provide any data or empirical evidence to back up their statements.
House Armed Services Subcommittee for Military Personnel Chairman Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) pointed out that the Department of Defense (DOD) had expended over 6 million man-hours for DEI-related training without offering evidence to justify the massive investment.
THAT IS GARBAGE TRAINING. Biden Defense Officials Defend Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in the Military https://t.co/Y5g5q7NTQZ
— deborah green (@NewaiGreen) March 24, 2023
Moreover, when asked about the military’s struggle with recruitment, the officials could not provide figures that demonstrated a link between DEI and increased recruitment numbers. Cisneros, the DOD’s chief DEI officer, could not provide basic information about DEI-related expenditures or staffing.
The hearing raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Pentagon’s DEI initiatives, with lawmakers questioning the value of investing significant time and resources into programs that need more evidence of their benefits. Some GOP members, including Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL), argued that the military was already diverse and that DEI training only served to divide troops and damage recruitment efforts.
.@RepJackBergman asked civilian officials for the DOD and each service whether DEI is a positive or negative for military recruitment. Each one said "positive" or "very positive."
Bergman asks why the military is underwater with recruiting then.
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) March 23, 2023
During the hearing, Cisneros was also scrutinized for his handling of the investigation into the former DEI chief for the DOD schools, Kelisa Wing. Despite the Pentagon repeatedly citing Cisneros as the person responsible for determining the probe’s outcome, he was clueless when asked about it during the hearing.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) accused Cisneros of taking six months to investigate one tweet and not even figuring out what the words in the post meant, even when it was obvious that the language was intended to be demeaning to Wing’s White colleagues.
Eventually, the Pentagon said it would issue no disciplinary action against Wing over her inflammatory, racist statements, finding she spoke in a “personal capacity.” That outcome has raised concerns that the DOD is failing to address the divisive effects of DEI training, particularly on recruitment and morale.
This week’s hearing has revealed that DEI initiatives are contentious and divisive measures that drive a wedge between military personnel and contribute to disturbing recruitment figures.