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The U.S. Navy and the DEI Debate: A Veteran's Perspective

The U.S. Navy and the DEI Debate: A Veteran's Perspective

The U.S. Navy has recently made a significant commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), as evidenced by the prominence of these principles on its official website. However, as a veteran with 34 years of service, I find myself questioning the relevance and practicality of this commitment in the context of a military organization.

The Navy's Diversity and Equity webpage proclaims, "I AM A SAILOR. WE ARE A TEAM. THIS IS OUR NAVY." This statement is followed by a quote from ADM Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, who asserts that when sailors feel included, respected, and empowered, they are more ready to win wars, deter aggression, and maintain freedom of the seas.


However, the Navy offers no concrete evidence to support this claim. Moreover, the connection between feelings of inclusion and military readiness is not clearly explained. In my years of service, I never once was asked about my feelings. The Navy I served in emphasized toughness, stamina, perseverance, physical fitness, strength, courage, honor, and commitment. Feelings were secondary, and that was well understood by me and my shipmates.

The Navy's focus on DEI raises several questions. How diverse should the Navy be? The 2021 DOD report on demographics for Navy shows that the Navy is already as diverse as any institution anywhere. The Navy is already diverse, with 37% of the Navy from a measured racial demographic group, leaving 63% that identify as white. This matches the percent reported nationally in the 2020 Census.

The Navy's commitment to DEI also brings up the question of equity versus equality. The Navy's DEI webpage uses both terms, which can be confusing as they mean different things. Equity refers to equal outcomes regardless of merit, while equality refers to equal opportunity based on merit. The latter should be the Navy's mantra, not the former.

The term "inclusion" is also used frequently in the Navy's DEI discourse. However, the military's nature demands uniformity and conformity for efficiency and safety. The use of the term "inclusion" seems to be more of a political move than a practical one.

In conclusion, while the Navy's commitment to DEI may align with broader societal trends, it raises questions about its practicality and relevance in a military context. The Navy is already diverse, and its focus should be on equality, not equity. The use of politically charged terminology such as "inclusion" may introduce doubt and dissension, potentially undermining the Navy's effectiveness. The Navy's focus should remain on its primary mission: to fight and win the nation's wars at sea and project power ashore.