Republicans attack military for supporting diversity but experts say it leads to success

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Marco Rubio and Chip Roy used photos of Black and transgender service members to criticize the Biden administration for diversity initiatives, including efforts started under Trump.

A new report released by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) criticizes military efforts to increase diversity, even though the U.S. military itself, along with experts and military leaders, say increased diversity improves military effectiveness.

Rubio and Roy provided early access to the report, titled "Woke Warfighters," to Fox News, which has publicly campaigned against anti-LGBTQ equality for years.

"We need to spend more time thinking about how to counter Chinese aircraft carriers and less time thinking about pronouns," Rubio wrote in the report. Roy wrote, "[President Joe] Biden's woke Pentagon is using taxpayer dollars to promote blatant anti-American ideology."

The report features photos of Black and transgender military leaders and members and claims that programs aimed at diversity have become so much of a priority in the armed forces that they are undermining their fighting capability.

The Army has put emphasis on diversity in the military since before Joe Biden became president. In 2020, while Trump was in office, the Army launched "Project Inclusion," an initiative designed to increase diversity and equity across the branch.

In a document accompanying the program's announcement, the Army stated that it was important because "The strength of the Army comes from its diversity. Developing and maintaining qualified and demographically diverse leadership is critical for mission effectiveness and is essential to national security."

The Biden administration has committed to increased diversity across the military. The National Security Strategy released by the White House in October stated, "We will strengthen the effectiveness of the force by promoting diversity and inclusion." Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has overseen initiatives designed to address extremism within military ranks.

In March 2021, Biden removed restrictions on transgender military service that had been put in place by former President Donald Trump.

Dartmouth College professor Jason Lyall has studied the effects of diversity on military effectiveness and preparedness. He said in an analysis published by the Washington Post in July 2020, "My research shows that inclusive armies fight harder, suffer lower rates of desertion and defection, and exhibit more creative problem-solving on complex battlefields than armies drawn from marginalized or repressed groups."

Lyall wrote: "Victory on the battlefield over the past 200 years has usually gone to the most inclusive armies, not the largest or best-equipped ones. Inclusion, in other words, is good for military effectiveness."

In May, a group of former Defense Department leaders released a letter in support of increased diversity and inclusion in the armed forces. Among those who signed the letter were Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, who served as secretary of defense under former President Barack Obama, and Mark Esper, who served in the same position under Trump.

"Diversity is a strength of the U.S. military, and our experience as senior defense leaders tells us that capable and diverse teams are more effective in today's complex environment," the authors said.

Active members of the armed forces have also spoken out in favor of increased diversity.

Col. Andrew Deaton, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, wrote in a column for the nonprofit Association of the United States Army, "When leaders are able to leverage the holistic diversity of their soldiers, the unit and mission benefit."

Gen. Mark Milley, current chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a 2021 speech at an ROTC ceremony at Howard University, "Opportunity in our military must be reflective of the diverse talent in order for us to remain strong."

Rear Adm. Keith Davids of the Naval Special Warfare Command was quoted last month on the Navy's official website as saying, "Diversity is a force multiplier and makes us a stronger and more capable fighting force."

Voters have rejected attacks on diversity from Republican officials and candidates. Gubernatorial candidates such as Tudor Dixon in Michigan and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, who made anti-LGBTQ positions a key part of their campaigns, were overwhelmingly defeated. Anti-LGBTQ Senate candidates such as Mehmet Oz and Blake Masters also lost their races.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.