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Biden’s pick to lead Joint Chiefs of Staff faces questions over DEI record

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President Joe Biden’s pick to Chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff faced questions from lawmakers Tuesday over his history of backing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Charles Q. Brown testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday as the next step in his nomination process. The expected questions about Ukraine and munitions were accompanied by a less common line of questioning: how DEI has infiltrated the military and might be hurting recruitment.

A key point of dispute was a memo Brown signed in August of last year that set racial quota goals for officer applicants.

“Do we have too many white officers in the Air Force?” Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., asked to kick off his line of questioning of Brown.

As The Center Square previously reported, the Air Force has implemented racial quota goals for officers that roughly line up with the representation those groups have in the general U.S. population.

An image of part of that memo is below, which shows “diversity and inclusion goals” for officers based on race and gender:

“I could go down the line of questioning of which of the 5,400 white officers that we have too many [of] should be fired because that is the actual impact of all this,” Schmitt said at the hearing. “DEI is an ideology based in cultural Marxism, and somehow some way we ended up in a place where a general in the Air Force is advocating for racial quotas whether it be by applicants or the number of officers or maybe the number of total units, and I just think that’s wrong.”

Brown was able to wave off concerns, saying those were only applicant goals not true quotas and emphasizing the necessity of merit in the military.

Brown has said in other instances, though, that he considers diversity when hiring and promoting.

“I hire for diversity, because they all bring a different perspective, which makes my decisions that much better, because I hear different sides of the argument,” Brown said in November of 2020 as part of a virtual event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Hearing from all these different groups provides a perspective…It makes us stronger as an Air Force, and I think it makes us stronger as a nation as well.”

Other lawmakers at the hearing raised questions about DEI and the rise of politics in the military.

Brown has some Republican support, though, as multiple Republicans on the committee said they hope he is confirmed.

“Above all, I will dedicate myself to this proposition: that the military and its service members solely as the unwavering defenders of our Constitution and our nation,” Brown testified.

The issue is further complicated because Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., has continued to block some top military officer promotions in protest of the Pentagon’s abortion policies. Tuberville has pledged to block nominees for general or admiral until the Pentagon ends its new policy of reimbursing troops who travel out of state for an abortion.

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