What Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is Doing to the Navy

At the U.S. Navy website it says:

“Navy focuses on DEI in three ways:
• For Diversity, Navy measures how individual communities compare to the Department of Labor comparable-civilian equivalent, officer and enlisted demographics along race, gender, and ethnic lines. This ensures there are no unintended barriers to entry, and helps focus Navy recruiting efforts to bring in the right available talent.”

What are Navy’s demographics? The Navy matches quite closely the national metrics. The Navy falls short only in female officers. The female officers’ deficit is not due to any barrier to entry. It is due to females largely being uninterested in military service. How does this comparison ensure “there are no unintended barriers to entry?” The standards for admission to the Navy are the same for everyone except that Blacks and Hispanics are offered preferences based on skin color. That unfair advantage is what the Supreme Court ruled against by a 6-3 majority in the Students for Fair Admissions versus Harvard and UNC cases. Is Navy ignoring the Supreme Court ruling that racial preferences are illegal?

Navy then says:
“• For Equity, Navy looks at key billets, along with detailing, advancement/promotion statistics to ensure every Sailor has the same opportunity for professional growth and development. This enhances organizational loyalty, encouraging Sailors towards a Navy career because they can see themselves in senior Navy leaders, both officer and enlisted.”

The Navy uses the word "equity" but actually says ‘every sailor has the same opportunity, i.e. equal opportunity. Equal opportunity is not equity. Equity is equal results. Using equal opportunity enhances organizational loyalty. Using equity would create dissension in the ranks. This an example of the Navy wanting to have it both ways. It appears they are using the word equity but practicing equal opportunity.

Navy then says:
“• For Inclusion, Navy uses a variety of surveys to assess whether not its workforce feels included and connected to mission and leaders at all levels. This reflects human psychology as it relates to teambuilding, where personnel who feel excluded and disconnected are more likely to both underperform and conduct destructive behaviors.”

Assessing workforce welfare? Why doesn’t the Navy report what DOD climate assessments reveal? Those assessments include Navy personnel. Those surveys show fewer than 2% of the workforce indicate that racism is a problem. With such a low percentage, one wonders, why all the emphasis on DEI? I can only speculate that it is a political calculation by Navy leadership.

You will find similar vague DEI statements at virtually every Navy site. It is a ubiquitous and cloying obeisance without substance to political masters that is sucking up millions of precious dollars and manpower, detracting from the core mission, and harming morale and focus on readiness. Both internal and external reports document actual problems that the Navy should be dealing with… horrific maintenance backlogs, overstressed crews due to longer and longer deployments, low readiness rates documented by internal Navy reports, the GAO, and Heritage Foundation, and the plague of suicide in the ranks.

An emphasis on DEI is the exact opposite of the core of what it is to be a Navy, a military service. For example, all Navy personnel are required to wear a uniform while on duty. Uniform means: “Identical or consistent. Without variation in detail.” Yet the Navy is now laser focused on diversity, which is the opposite of uniformity. Isn’t focus on superficial attributes such as the color of your skin or ethnicity a recipe for creating division not uniformity?

All the attention to DEI has become an obsession and has been institutionalized. It is a system based on a belief with no actual evidence that diversity improves performance or readiness. We know this is so because diversity advocates operate behind closed doors and will not allow anyone in who wants to ask questions regarding this emphasis and what the emphasis is doing to our readiness. Navy leadership preaches DEI without supplying any evidence that DEI is objectively making the Navy better, stronger, and more ready. The opposite is true. At the recent USMA Diversity conference, the West Point Data Officer confirmed that the Army has no data supporting the claim that diversity improves unit performance or readiness. Furthermore, there is increasingly more evidence that the promotion of DEI is having the exact opposite effect from that intended. Across the nation there is tremendous pushback against DEI in academia, in the corporate world, and in state government. How can Navy leadership continue to ignore what is going on all around them?

The Navy has approximately 230 flag officers. They are the leaders of our Navy. These are the best and brightest. These officers were bred and trained based on our core values of courage, honor, and commitment. I respectfully challenge these officers to objectively evaluate what the Navy is achieving with its focus on DEI instead of our traditional values of honor, courage, and commitment. That is the Navy I served in for 30 years, the Navy that helped topple the Soviet Union. The Navy must reject DEI. Focus on diversity can only divide. Focus on equity undermines merit. Focus on inclusion is a fool’s errand, as personal neediness breeds weak minds and weak spirits. The Navy must go back to basics and renew our commitment to our core values and concentrate with laser focus on getting the Navy ready to fight and defend our nation. Instead of continuing to promote DEI and other political topics, the Navy’s leaders should concentrate solving the serious problems facing the Navy, those challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Iran, the DPRK, and radical Islam. Concentrate on building a Navy that citizens want to join. Take care of those who do join and focus on the mission. And finally, focus on readiness above all else for our ships and aircraft so that we will be able to execute our sacred mission to defend the nation against our enemies.

CAPT Brent Ramsey, (USN, ret.) is a writer on Defense matters. He has been featured in American Thinker, Washington Examiner, Real Clear Defense, Armed Forces Press, CD Media, and Patriot Post. He is a Vice President for Calvert Group, Board of Advisors member for the Center for Military Readiness and STARRS, and member of the Military Advisory Group for Congressman Chuck Edwards (NC-11).

Image: National Archives

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