Note to Wash. Times: Military brass says diversity is necessary to "fighting and winning our nation's wars"

Blog ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

A Washington Times editorial attacked the Navy for focusing on diversity in the officer corps, arguing that "we'd prefer that the Navy's top priority be fighting and winning our nation's wars rather than engaging in social experimentation." In fact, many former military officers -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- have said that a diverse officer corps is necessary in order to fight and win our nation's wars.

The Times asserted that a Navy admiral had sent out an e-mail entitled "Diversity Accountability" that contained instructions from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead stating that "a change in focus of this year's diversity brief is the desire to identify our key performers (by name) and provide insight on each of them." The Times claimed that with such a policy, the Navy "is erecting a wall of segregation." The Times editorial also stated:

Call us old-fashioned seadogs, but we'd prefer that the Navy's top priority be fighting and winning our nation's wars rather than engaging in social experimentation.

In fact, retired military officers say that diversity among officers is necessary in order for the nation to be able to fight and win wars. For instance, military experts -- including five retired admirals -- filed a brief in the Supreme Court case of Grutter v. Bollinger, that supported affirmative action programs in higher education. The brief stated:

Based on decades of experience, amici have concluded that a highly qualified, racially diverse officer corps educated and trained to command our nation's racially diverse enlisted ranks is essential to the military's ability to fulfill its principal mission to provide national security.

The brief backed its statement that a diverse officer corps is necessary for national security reasons by stating that the lack of such diversity seriously hurt the U.S. military effort in the Vietnam War:

Throughout the armed forces, the overwhelmingly white officer corps faced racial tension and unrest. "Fights between black and white soldiers were endemic in the 1970s, an era now remembered as the 'time of troubles.'" Moskos & Butler, supra, at 33. "In Vietnam, racial tensions reached a point where there was an inability to fight." Maraniss, supra, at A01 (quoting Lt. Gen. Frank Peterson, Jr.). African-American troops, who rarely saw members of their own race in command positions, lost confidence in the military as an institution. Mason, supra, at 2-3. And, African-American servicemen concluded that the command structure had no regard for whether African-Americans would succeed in military careers.

And it's not like the brief was submitted only by progressives. Among the people who put their names on the brief were Adm. William J. Crowe (ret.), a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Ronald Reagan; Marine Lt. Col. Robert C. ("Bud") McFarlane (ret.), a Naval Academy graduate and national security adviser to Reagan; Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf (ret.), commander of allied forces during the first Gulf War; and former Republican Sen. William Cohen (ME), who served as Defense Secretary under President Bill Clinton.

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