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GOP amendments aim to eliminate “woke” programs from Pentagon’s budget.

House Republicans Seek to Eliminate DEI Training Programs in the Military

House Republicans are expected to support three amendments calling for the Pentagon to audit and eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training programs when the House Armed Services Committee convenes on June 21 to begin vetting the proposed $874.2 billion fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (FY24 NDAA).

Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.) revealed on Fox Business’s ‘Mornings With Maria’ early on June 20 that he would sponsor the three amendments, confirming reports first posted by CQ/Roll Call that a “defund DEI” initiative would surface during the first public hearing on the annual defense budget, filed as House Bill 2670, before the full 59-member House committee.

“Here are the three amendments,” he said, waving three pieces of paper for viewers to see. “We are very interested in getting ‘wokeism’ out of the military.”

Amendments Proposed by Rep. Alford

  • Prohibit the Department of Defense (DOD) from using FY24 NDAA allocations for the Pentagon’s Countering Extremism Working Group
  • Freeze salary and operational monies for a deputy inspector general “for diversity and inclusion and extremism in the military” position authorized under the FY21 NDAA
  • Mandate an audit assessment of staffing within the Pentagon’s DEI office

“We got to eliminate these, what they call diversity, equity and inclusion programs [and] these investigations into what they call ‘extremists in the military,’” Alford said. “These are patriots who love our Constitution, who love our institutions, love how voting is supposed to be. They want nothing more than to show patriotism in their country, and they’re being rooted out, maybe because they don’t get the vaccine. They get kicked out of the military. These are not reasons to be kicking them out for ‘extremism.’”


Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.) (United States House of Representatives)

Two Years of Mounting Angst

Conservatives have argued for years that DEI training, as it was being implemented in the military, was a misguided attempt to impose political correctness with little relevance in the ranks and was, in fact, hurting morale and exacerbating tensions, potentially degrading force readiness.

That angst has been pin-pricked by a series of executive orders issued by President Joe Biden since 2021, beginning with a directive issued the day of his inauguration that revoked a September 2020 order issued by former president Donald Trump, lifting its restrictions on DEI-related training in the military.

That was followed by a Biden executive order revoking a Trump-era ban on transgender people enlisting in the military and an ensuing 22-page DOD instruction outlined rules for “in-service transition for transgender service members.”

A later 2021 Biden directive required “federal employees [including DOD], managers, and leaders to have knowledge of systemic and institutional racism and bias against underserved communities … and have increased understanding of implicit and unconscious bias.”

Conservatives were further agitated when Biden’s newly appointed secretary of defense, former U.S. army general Lloyd Austin, ordered a 60-day stand down “to address extremism in the ranks” in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

That criticism has intensified in 2023 with Republicans in the 2022 midterms regaining a narrow House majority and the military’s most significant recruiting shortfalls in the half-century history of the all-volunteer force.

Through winter and spring, congressional Republicans have maintained the military’s recruiting shortfalls can be at least partly attributed to negative publicity generated by requiring DEI training and point to the U.S. Navy’s “digital ambassador” elevation of a petty officer who moonlights as a drag queen as glaring evidence of a disconnect between marketing and the most likely prospective recruits.

The DOD and service branch chiefs have attributed the shortfalls to a strong job market, residual post-pandemic upheaval, perceived quality-of-life issues, and the fact that only 23 percent of eligible-aged Americans are fit to serve and only 9 percent are willing to consider doing a stint in the armed forces.

Alford said the amendments are “critical to eliminating the ‘wokeness’ in our military” and getting rid of the “unnecessary extremism working group” would stop the Pentagon from “wasting man-hours and taxpayer dollars on programs that do nothing to benefit our military but rather hamper recruitment and retention efforts.”


Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill with members of the American Legion in Washington, on June 16, 2021. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Amendments Encoded in Proposed ‘Warrior Act’

The amendments appear similar to initiatives included in HB 3278, ‘The Warrior Act,’ co-sponsored by representatives Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) and Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.).

Waltz told The Epoch Times that his ‘Working to Address Recruiting and Retention to Improve Our Readiness (Warrior) Act’ will “provide much-needed reforms to prevent the Biden administration from further politicizing the Department of Defense and improve military readiness.”

Like Alford’s amendments, the proposed “Warrior Act” would require DOD to institute “a hiring freeze of Equal Opportunity and Equal Employment Opportunity personnel, require an audit of DEI programs including “a description of … how many man-hours were spent participating in the program … and the total costs associated with each program.”

Joint chiefs of staff chair Army general Mark Milley in 2022 estimated the armed forces dedicated nearly six million hours and about $1 million in additional expenses to training sessions focused on these issues in 2021.

“This averages to just over two hours per service member in a total force of 2.46 million members and is comparable to other Joint Force periodic training requirements,” Milley wrote in a letter.

During the March 28 House hearing, Veterans on Duty, Inc. chair Jeremy Hunt testified that the Pentagon’s DEI program “subjects some service members to 11-week resident DEI training classes—despite the military’s history of leading the fight against discrimination.”

He said in 2022, the army alone spent $114 million on DEI and “in some cases we are paying these ‘DEI bureaucrats’ $200,000 a year,” despite there being “no data to determine if it actually works, which we know it doesn’t, and whether there was any type of underlying data that necessities the dramatic increases of this programs.”

Waltz said he filed the bill in May after hearing numerous complaints from the ranks about how divisive DEI training is and how much time is being wasted on the program.



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