Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL 1st District) has written an exclusive letter to the Secretary of the Air Force, expressing his serious concerns regarding the Department of the Air Force’s (DAF) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategic Plan for 2023.
This letter comes in light of ongoing national discussions concerning DEIA initiatives within the United States military.
The Congressman is questioning the agency’s priorities and contending that a focus on DEIA initiatives detracts from fulfilling its core mission: national security.
It was reported that Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall had presented this new strategic plan for 2023.
“As with any competitive team, our success depends on recruiting and retaining the best talent… The Department of the Air Force’s (DAF) diversity and inclusion efforts are informed by science, business best practices, congressional mandates, data-focused policy reviews and assessments, and the lived experiences of Airmen and Guardians working together every day,” Kendall said in a statement.
“Our mission requires the DAF to represent the diverse Nation we serve. To maintain the pipeline of All-Volunteer Force, we must leverage the diversity of the United States – including racial and gender, but also regional, cultural, socioeconomic, and philosophical diversity. Our diversity distinguishes our force and provides us with unique advantages on today’s battlefield and the battlefield of the future,” he added.
In his letter, Congressman Gaetz has expressed the alarm of his constituents in Northwest Florida regarding the DEIA initiatives. They are worried that these priorities may suggest a reduction of the DAF’s pledge to national security.
“I write to express concern over the Department of the Air Force (DAF) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, (DEI) and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategic Plan for calendar year 2023. Throughout Northwest Florida, my constituents have voiced concerns that the DAF has placed an overemphasis on DEI initiatives through numerous policy memos that neglect to mention or prioritize the DAF’s core purpose for existence: preserving national security,” Gaetz said in his letter.
Representative Gaetz emphasizes the difference between the recruitment policies of former President Donald Trump, which enabled the Department of Defense to meet its staffing and recruitment goals in 2020-2021, and those of the Biden administration, which has led to a shortfall in meeting these targets for the Air Force, Army and Navy. He attributes this decline to a misalignment of priorities.
“The DAF is a key contributor to the misapplication of defense priorities, with DEI memoranda that send command signals to recruit a certain number of Americans based on superficial characteristics, like race or sex. According to your memo, the DAF sought to recruit in FY 2022 8.5% black men, 4.5% black females, 6.5% Asian men, and 0.5% Native-American females,” said Gaetz.
He continued, “Unfortunately, the recruiting numbers would suggest a failure of DEI and social-experimentation programs. Your policies have resulted in numerous recruiting shortfalls of a historic manner; for example, the recruiting numbers from FY 2022 and FY 2023, were some of the weakest recruiting numbers in the history of the DAF. Additionally, the public has observed the politicization of the DAF, resulting in waning public sentiment and trust in the military as an institution.”
In his letter, Congressman Gaetz emphasizes that the 18-page DEIA policy document, containing over 5500 words, makes a single reference to “combat” and no mentions of “national security” or “merit-based”. He believes this conspicuous absence reveals the DAF’s current focus.
Thus, he suggests that the DEIA working group should be eliminated and replaced with strategies designed to address threats from near-peer adversaries such as China and Russia.
“The working-group analytics team assesses every possible angle DEI could contemplate, except whether an emphasis on DEI could have a negative impact on military recruiting and retention. The failure to even consider this as a possible result in the “wokeification” of the DAF shows a clear disregard for the objective truth.”
“I respectfully request that your team step back and reflect on the current state of the DAF. With the swearing-in of General C.Q. Brown as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I can only imagine these misguided Air Force policies, ushered in under your tenure, will quickly find “adherence” and “compliance” in the other services, leading to further erosion of their standing and the entire reputation of the Department of Defense (DoD).”
“Therefore, I am formally requesting that your office eliminate the DEIA working group. Please do not just rely on the standard DoD echo chamber that will reaffirm the status quo. Rather, please take this moment to steer the DAF back toward an America-first outlook that removes the social-experiment element from the DAF and reorients the team toward addressing the threats of our near-peer adversaries,” the letter concluded.