(This article first appeared in NationalReview.com: Diversity in Military Not a National-Security Imperative | National Review )
By: BG Ernie Audino (USA-Ret), Senior Military Fellow
Bullets snapping across a battlefield are equal opportunity employers. That’s because bullets don’t discriminate based on skin color, and soldiers don’t shoot more or less accurately because of their skin color.
But, yet, in oral argument this week in a case before the US Supreme Court, Students for Fair Admissions vs UNC, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that “[I]t is a critical national security imperative to attain diversity with the officer corps. And, at present, it’s not possible to achieve that diversity without race-conscious admissions, including in our nation’s service academies.”
Of course, she’s never worn a military uniform, let alone set foot on a battlefield, so you would think she would have referred to some real evidence to support her assertion. She didn’t. Instead, she relied upon the opinion of a collection of retired general officers who, also without evidence, asserted the same imperative in an amicus brief they filed for the case.
They’re all blowing smoke.
Because, if Prelogar and those generals are right, ie that racial diversity in our officer corps is a “national security imperative,” then the services would at least track racial percentages in their mandatory assessments of unit combat readiness, but they don’t. Racial diversity is not included, and never has been.
That’s because it is factually irrelevant to the violent imposition of our will on the enemy, which is the object of all war.
As a defining example, let’s look at Army Regulation 220-1, which establishes the official requirements and formal process to determine and report the readiness of Army units to perform their wartime missions. It requires unit commanders to measure, assess and report four, designated areas: personnel, equipment on hand, the serviceability of that equipment, and the unit’s collective training proficiency.
Racial make-up of units is not mentioned.
But maybe we missed it. Maybe it’s nested as a metric under one of those four areas. The obvious one would be personnel, but when we look there we find only these three metrics, “total deployable personnel strength, assigned military occupational specialty skills match, and the deployable senior grade composite level.”
Again, racial make-up is not a criterion the Army measures to assess combat readiness.
But maybe we’re looking at an Army regulation that is sorely out of date. Nope. The current one is dated, 16 August 2022.
Okay, you say, that’s a regulation, maybe out in the real Army things are different. Well, during my 32 years in an Army uniform, having commanded combat units here and on the battlefield, never once in those years did the Army ever require me, or even politely ask me, to report the racial make-up of my unit or assess race as a component of my units’ ability to put bullets into the faces of evil men. Never.
I can say with absolute confidence that this is the case for the entire Army, not just my units. How so? Because my final Army assignment was Deputy Director of Operations for HQs Army, and the monthly readiness report of every, soon-to-deploy, combat brigade in the US Army crossed through my office and was briefed to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. We scrutinized the statuses of scores of brigades during that period, and not once was the assessment or reporting of racial make-up a requirement. Not once.
If the racial composition of our military units was a “critical national security imperative,” then it would be imperative on the Army to track it and assess it. It’s not, so the Army doesn’t.
Consequently, with no such national security imperative, our military has no such imperative to force racial diversity into its officer corps, and without that, our nation’s service academies have no need to resort to racial preferencing in their admissions processes.
It’s time to remember that the essence of war is violence, not virtue-signaling. Let’s get back to selecting future combat leaders on the basis of their qualifications and nothing else. If we don’t, future battlefields will sort this out for us.
Ernie Audino is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and a retired Brigadier General, US Army.