Air Force Academy Woes Highlight Collapse of Military Values Under Diversity Mania
Other than a well-fought win over rival Navy, the United States Air Force Academy had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.
First, came the story that the Academy gave diversity training to cadets encouraging them to stop using such patently offensive words as mom and dad. This was followed up closely by a story that the Academy was promoting a fellowship that was open to just about everyone, but straight white men need not apply. Finally, the school that used to be underpinned by its notable lack of tolerance for lying, cheating or stealing was put on two-years probation by the NCAA, complete with a rather long list of punishments, for apparently cheating at recruiting.
What ties these three stories together is the complete breakdown of values at the school, which are reflective of the breakdown in values across the military.
Both my wife and I graduated from USAFA in the 1990s. At the time, the school’s values were integrity, service, and excellence. Cadets were encouraged to put their classmates and country ahead of themselves. Even the smallest lie or anything that could be construed as cheating, to include poorly documented homework, was a one-way ticket home.
Those values have been turned upside down in the school’s commitment to the military’s new value system of diversity above all. For the Air Force-Navy game, the Falcons wore their new uniforms honoring the Space Force. Semper Supra, which means always above, was displayed prominently where names are normally shown. The motto is somewhat ironic since in today’s military, that’s where diversity and inclusion rank in the priority list, always above and eclipsing everything else. All other values are subservient to it.
2019 US Air Force Academy graduation (public domain)
While the element of the diversity training that suggested cadets should refrain from using words like mom and dad got most of the attention, the bigger problem is the overall philosophy that pits people into tribes and places the individual over the group. We are now suggesting that we should be conscious of color and “value people for their uniqueness.”
In other words, individuality based on color of skin takes precedence over forming a common bond across the unit. This is a complete reversal of the military’s traditional values. Military service is no longer about Service Members subordinating their own desires to be part of a cohesive group that is serving something greater than themselves. Instead, it puts individuals in the spotlight and then values some higher than others based upon nothing more than their skin color or sexual desires.
We’ve gone from Martin Luther King’s dream of a colorblind society 180 degrees in the other direction to where we no longer judge anyone based upon the content of character, but instead focus almost entirely on the color of skin.
This has gradually strangled the military’s values. General Douglas MacArthur’s famous “duty, honor, country” approach cannot co-exist alongside such a demented worldview that is both tribal and individualistic.
In February, all the cadets were forced to sit through a lesson from George Takei, a strident promoter of the left’s new religion, to kick off their National Character and Leadership Symposium.
When I was at the Academy, the school welcomed Christian and religious ministry groups and partnered with them in helping to build a strong values foundation in the cadets. Today, the cadets get the man who once called Clarence Thomas a clown in blackface.
A service academy would never dare put up a speaker who showed such utter contempt for a Democrat president as Takei routinely shows towards all Republicans, to include the former president and vice president.
Americans are taking notice. In 2022, USAFA saw a 28 percent decline in the number of applicants. When all was said and done, there were only 1,775 qualified candidates for that year’s class, a staggeringly low number considering that the Academy needs to offer relatively close to that number of appointments to fill each class.
This tracks with the broader recruiting challenge the entire military is now facing. While military leaders regularly meet to discuss this problem, they rarely zero in on the obvious issue. Parents in the areas where the military typically is most successful recruiting no longer encourage their children to join a hyper-politicized military that no longer shares their values.
My wife and I did not encourage our three kids to join the Air Force, which is somewhat telling considering we are both retired Air Force officers who once bled blue. Many of our friends and classmates feel the same. The military has always had its greatest success recruiting from the parts of the country where patriotism runs highest and military service has also always been a family affair, with kids emulating their parents’ service. But why would anyone want their sons and daughters to serve in a military that holds their values in contempt? When you’ve lost the parents and influencers, you’ve lost most of the kids. It isn’t rocket science.
While the military maintains its traditional values on paper, they barely give them even lip service at this point, but the value of diversity is talked about ad nauseum. Anyone who tries to return the military to the values that underpinned it for generations would likely be slandered as an extremist and pushed out the door.
In response to the Academy getting called out on its diversity training, the USAFA Superintendent said that “our American diversity is a strategic advantage that opens the door to creative solutions, providing a competitive edge in air, space and cyberspace.” Interesting choice of words in the very week that the Army’s first transgender officer chose the rather creative solution of trying to give confidential medical information to Russia, a story that is mostly absent from all but conservative media.
Almost all military leaders parrot those same nonsensical talking points. It’s practically a job requirement at this point. But diversity is a neutral concept. It is certainly not bad, but it is also not good, or even a value. The blind worship of diversity as the highest good is a cancer. Imagine if we demanded equal representation based on race and sexual orientation in sports? What you would end up with would be something far less than the ideal and it certainly would not be viewed as a strategic advantage.
This is a national security crisis on many levels. For one, the military is replacing the type of people who believe in service and country with those who don’t. That won’t end well. When the military’s very mission requires asking people to potentially give up their lives in service to their country, the values that underpin it matter. It is hard to imagine anyone who will be willing to die for these new values that encourage tribalism and elevate the individual over the unit, with a side of grievance and resentment thrown in.
Our military leaders like to comfort each other, even as China surpasses the U.S. in some military capability areas, with the fact that our people are better. They shouldn’t. What made our people better were the values they held. With those values being shredded, that advantage is also disappearing.
The other problem is that every minute spent on this charade is a minute not spent on the true national security threat, which is China. Right now, it is hard to overestimate the number of minutes that every command and leader in the military is wasting in furtherance of this false religion. Pacific Air Forces, the lead Air Force command charged with planning and leading any air operations in China’s region, lists diversity as its top priority because of course they do. If we ever have to pit the politicized military we are building against China, the result may very well be catastrophic.
If the military is to succeed going forward, it needs to return to the values that made it great. And that will not happen as long as Democrats hold power. If and when Republicans are back in power, they need to do a lot more than outlaw critical race theory. They need to dismantle the diversity and inclusion infrastructure in the military. No more toxic diversity commissars or indoctrination sessions. Until that happens, the problem cannot be fixed, and the military will continue to face a values crisis that impacts recruiting and readiness at every level.