House Committee Approves Amendment to Reinstate Meritocracy in Military Personnel Choices

Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee added an amendment to a 2024 defense spending package on Wednesday that mandates the Pentagon use merit-based personnel systems.

Introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., the amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to issue regulations no later than Sept. 30, 2024, that “any effort to recruit an individual to serve in a covered Armed Force may not take into account the race or gender of such individual.” The reform further specifies that the Defense Department must use a merit-based system to determine military promotions and assignments, which includes factors such as “qualifications, performance, integrity, fitness, training, and conduct.”

The Banks amendment was one of several considered during a committee markup of the fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.

“America’s military became the greatest fighting force in the history of the world by promoting excellence, embracing colorblind principles, and attracting our nation’s best and brightest,” Banks said. “The Biden DoD’s indefensible race and gender-based treatment of servicemembers is making our military weaker and our nation less safe. Anti-woke legislators should continue to roll back the Biden administration’s radical attempts to deny Americans’ equal protection under the law.”

Following President Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration, the Defense Department began heavily pushing military leadership to adopt discriminatory “DEI” ideology. For context, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (often abbreviated to DEI) promote a divisive and poisonous ideology that’s dismissive of merit and discriminates based on characteristics such as skin color and sexual orientation. Individuals who qualify for a certain position due to their merits but don’t meet the discriminating entity’s goal of being more “diverse” are passed over in favor of those who meet the preferred identitarian standards.

In May 2021, for example, then-Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker released a memo outlining an action plan to promote DEI in the Navy. The document instructed the Navy’s chief diversity officer and an assistant secretary to “lead and oversee all DEI efforts across the Department to synchronize key policies and initiatives … and to develop a strategy to advance DEI across the enterprise.”

U.S. Air Force leadership issued a similar memo in August 2022 directing the Air Force Academy and Air Education and Training Command to “develop a diversity and inclusion outreach plan” aimed at “achieving a force more representative of our Nation.”

[RELATED: The Air Force Is Using Taxpayer Money To Fly Service Members To Branch ‘Pride’ Events]

Last month, Biden nominated Air Force Chief of Staff and Gen. Charles Q. Brown to be the next chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Brown — who was nominated to the former position by then-President Donald Trump — has admitted to using his post to increase opportunities for so-called “diverse candidates” in the Air Force. While speaking at a November 2020 event, for instance, Brown said he “hire[d] for diversity” when building his staff and indicated that “[a]t the higher level of the Air Force, diversity ha[d] moved to the forefront of personnel decisions such as promotions and hiring.”

Brown has also pushed back against sentiments from congressional Republicans who have expressed concerns about the Biden administration’s attempt to spread DEI instruction throughout the military.

Shawn Fleetwood is a staff writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He previously served as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood


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