Posted on January 7, 2021

Pentagon Gets Diversity Watchdog in Bill Passed over Trump Veto

Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg, January 5, 2021

Defense legislation passed in spite of President Donald Trump’s veto will bring a heightened focus on diversity issues and efforts to combat white supremacy and extremist behavior within the U.S. military.

Along with billions of dollars for new weapons systems and a pay raise for troops, a new deputy inspector general’s position was created by the bipartisan defense authorization bill to carry out audits, investigations and evaluations of military personnel policies, programs and systems to ensure they address diversity priorities.

The new watchdog will also have a key role in responding to white supremacist and criminal gang activity by military personnel, according to the legislation passed on Jan. 1 over Trump’s veto.

The deputy inspector general “will keep the heat on the military to make sure that racial inequality does not fade from the priority list, that these provisions are implemented successfully, and that Congress will receive an independent source of findings and recommendations,” said Representative Jackie Speier, the California Democrat who heads the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel panel.

Once the position is filled, the deputy inspector general could, for instance, review the extent to which the military services are examining social media posts of recruits or personnel needing security clearances to see if they’ve disclosed support for extremist organizations.

Military leaders have been supportive of moves to curb behavior and eliminate symbols that are offensive to service members of color, who now make up more than 40% of the active-duty force. In vetoing the annual policy bill, Trump took issue with a provision to rename military installations that honor Confederate generals.


While the U.S. military desegregated units years ahead of key civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s, it has continued to lag behind in many critical areas. {snip}

The review found enlisted Black troops are 57% more likely to face court-martials and are promoted less often, trends that continued across military criminal justice and professional development. {snip}