Florida GOP Congressman Mike Waltz, a former Green Beret, is preparing to introduce a bill targeting “woke’ policies and offices at the Pentagon, warning that the U.S. military under the Biden administration has become obsessed by progressive social justice policies at the expense of military readiness.
The “Working to Address Recruiting and Retention to Improve Our Readiness” (WARRIOR) Act would bar classes in critical race theory at service academies like West Point and Annapolis; prohibit the use of government funds to investigate allegations of extremism in the military; and audit the Pentagon’s expanding bureaucracy of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” programs.
“Our military faces the worst recruiting crisis since the Vietnam War because young Americans don’t want to join what was once a trusted institution that has become over-politicized and hyper-focused on DEI initiatives,” Mr. Waltz said, a third-term congressman who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the new special House panel on China. “The reforms proposed in this legislation will restore a merit-based culture to our ranks, audit unnecessary and political DEI programs, and require cost-benefit analysis reports for green energy-focused proposals.”
The bill would also mandate a hiring freeze on the number of civilian employees at the Defense Department who perform DEI-related tasks. The number would be capped at one employee for every 2,000 service members.
“Recent, perhaps well-intentioned, diversity, equity, and inclusion programs within the department have caused greater division within the armed forces. Some of these programs are diverting focus and resources away from force readiness against our potential adversaries,” the bill states. “The needs of the armed forces should always take precedence over meeting artificially derived quotas for diversity.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has pushed back on allegations coming from GOP lawmakers that the Pentagon has embraced critical race theory and other so-called woke policies, calling it a “spurious conversation.”
“We are focused on extremist behaviors and not ideology, not people’s thoughts, not people’s political orientation,” Mr. Austin told a June 2021 Capitol Hill hearing.
Mr. Waltz is a colonel in the Army National Guard who served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan.
“Under the Biden administration, the Pentagon has diverted its focus from lethality and have instead pushed initiatives that have politicized our warfighting ranks and harmed our military readiness,” he said.
Republicans have clashed with Mr. Austin and the Pentagon brass on a number of social issues, including the Pentagon‘s policies to accommodate active-duty personnel seeking an abortion, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all service members and Defense Department personnel, and a campaign by Mr. Austin to root out political extremists in the ranks that critics say targets only conservatives.
The bill would also create a director of COVID policy within the Defense Department to oversee what should be done about members of the armed forces who were forced out over their refusal to take the vaccine. Such actions may include reinstatement and back pay.
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