In a memorandum to all Department of Defense personnel regarding the foreign threats to America, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made sure he mentioned the importance of “diversity” in the armed forces. Austin also made sure to mention the “transnational challenges such as climate change.”
Austin started by referencing the “2022 National Defense Strategy,” asserting that it “articulates how we will achieve our goals through integrated deterrence, campaigning, and building enduring advantages.” After mentioning the “pacing challenge from the People’s Republic of China,” the “acute threat of Russian aggression,” and “threats from Iran [and] North Korea,” he segued into his “diversity” pitch.
“We will continue to recruit and sustain a uniformed and civilian workforce that embodies the diversity and dynamism of our great democracy,” he wrote.
NEW: @SecDef Lloyd Austin issues “Message to the Force”
– Calls #China “a generational challenge”
– Vows to tackle “the Acute #Russia|n Threat”
– Calls for vigilance re #NorthKorea, #Iran, terror groups
– Warns of security implications of #climatechange
— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) March 2, 2023
As far back as 2019, the head of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, made it clear that in 2020 he would push for legislation in Congress to permit trans-identifying troops in the military, a perspective which the Trump administration had generally opposed.
Smith stated, “Even if we know (Senate Armed Services Committee chairman) Sen. Jim Inhofe and Donald Trump won’t change their minds, do we want to take another run at it and how? We’ll be discussing that with a lot of people,” as Military Times reported.
In March 2019, the Defense Department approved a policy largely barring trans-identifying troops and military recruits who were transitioning to another sex from joining the military. A United States Court of Appeals had dismissed a claim by a lower court that the policy implemented by the Department of Defense under former Secretary of Defense James Mattis had constituted a blanket ban on trans-identifying people in the military.
After the court rendered its decision, Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said, “The department remains bound by three other court orders that require continued implementation” of the Obama administration policy that permitted trans-identifying personnel to serve openly. She added that the Department of Defense “is consulting with the Department of Justice on next steps in the litigation. We look forward to continuing to press our case in the courts.”
In August 2021, the U.S. Army’s top sergeant major, Michael Grinston, who formerly served as the senior enlisted member of the largest U.S. Army command, tweeted a tribute to Women’s Equality Day and diversity in the army, writing, “Diversity is a number — do you have people that don’t look or think like you in the room? Inclusion is listening [to] and valuing those people. #Women’s Equality Day reminds us we’re smarter and more lethal when we come together as an inclusive, cohesive team. Our values demand it.”
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Diversity is a number – do you have people that don’t look or think like you in the room? Inclusion is listening and valuing those people. #WomensEqualityDay reminds us we’re smarter and more lethal when we come together as an inclusive, cohesive team. Our values demand it. pic.twitter.com/b72l2EcIn0
— SMA Michael Grinston (@USArmySMA) August 26, 2021
In May 2022, it was reported that the U.S. Army was considering a policy called “compassionate reassignment,” permitting soldiers to request a transfer to a different area if they feel state or local laws discriminated against them because of their gender, Military.com reported.