Fewer ships, more 'equity': Navy growing weak while going woke, critics warn

"We worry that over time these new priorities will erode morale and readiness," said Navy association director Jason Beardsley.

Updated: June 25, 2021 - 11:01pm

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As the Navy plans to defund portions of the fleet while beefing up diversity and inclusion, critics warn that the service may be growing weak while going woke. 

The warnings most recently stem from a memo and testimony from top Navy officials.

In a June memo that many viewed as alarming, Secretary of the Navy Tom Harker wrote to Navy leaders that the service "cannot afford to simultaneously develop the next generation air, surface, and subsurface platforms," including the program to build a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile. The Navy is, however, adding money to programs that boost "diversity, equity, and inclusion," Harker wrote.

The new protocol drew considerable pushback from active duty and retired sailors, and from a key advocacy group, the Association of the United States Navy.

"We worry that over time these new priorities will erode morale and readiness," AUSN Executive Director Jason Beardsley told Just the News. "The last two weeks have been instructive. Top Navy officials have said over and over again that we need more ships; a report came out saying sailors aren't getting enough sleep; and back-to-back deployments are sapping morale and retention rates. What have we heard from DOD leaders in this time? Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are top priorities."

In a hearing last week before the House Armed Services Committee, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday, explained his position on the human resources element.

"Inwardly, we have to understand ourselves, and we have to understand critically that we value diversity," Gilday said.

His comment came amid questions from Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), who asked why Gilday had placed several radical books promoting critical race theory on the Navy's professional reading list. Among the books is "How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi, Lamborn said, noting that the book "argues that the entire American system is corrupted from top to bottom by racial prejudices, which account for all differences in outcomes in our society."

One sentence in the book says "the only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination," said Lamborn, who asked: "How does exposing our sailors to the idea that they are either oppressors or oppressed and that we must actively discriminate to make up for past discrimination, improve our Navy's readiness and lethality for great power competition?"

"I don't support everything that Kendi says," Gilday responded. "But the key point here is the sailors in our Navy have to be able to think critically."

That response from Gilday drew disdain from active duty service members and veterans, including TV host Pete Hegseth, who previously deployed as part of the Army National Guard.

"Let me be clear, there is absolutely no relevance of a book like 'How to Be an Anti Racist,' or 'The New Jim Crow,' another book on the list, to good unit cohesion and the ability to fight and win wars and defeat enemies," Hegseth said while on Fox News. "When you go to basic training, whether you are enlisted or an officer, you are broken down to say superficial differences do not matter when we come together as a team to close with and destroy the enemy."

Sailors and veterans have contacted the Navy association to express their alarm, Beardsley said. The common theme is concern that the service is being torn apart from within, and that national defense will suffer — a view the advocacy group shares.

"We fear the Navy is missing these large, urgent priorities while it chases these new issues that it hasn't even clearly defined," Beardsley said.

The new policies may be driven by the Navy wanting to gain favor with the Biden administration, Beardsley suggested.

"After 20-year land wars, it looks like the Navy is fighting for relevance and preeminence by championing policies it sees as popular under the new administration," he said.

The Navy is proceeding full steam ahead on those policies, Harker told lawmakers last week.

"We've hired a senior advisor to report to us on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that person just started recently," Harker said. "He is looking at the existing policies that are department-wide and then also what's in the Navy and the Marine Corps to come forward and make sure that we are aligned with the direction of the administration on this, sir."

Said Beardsley: "The military often says 'don't let perfect be the enemy of good.' The Navy, however, seems to be racing to be the fastest branch to achieve the utopian perfection which requires a destruction of what is good."  

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