Washington, D.C. – The Department of Defense (DOD) is set to allocate nearly $270 million in taxpayer funds over the course of fiscal years 2022 to 2024 to advance its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) agenda. This substantial investment signifies a significant uptick in spending on DEIA initiatives, signaling the department’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity.
Over the past three years, the DOD has progressively increased its financial commitment to DEIA efforts. Starting at $68 million in fiscal year 2022, the allocation swelled to $86.5 million in fiscal year 2023. The latest budget request for fiscal year 2024 seeks an additional $28.2 million, bringing the total to $114.7 million.
If the DOD’s fiscal year 2024 DEIA funding request is incorporated into the final legislation, the department’s expenditure on diversity initiatives from fiscal years 2022 to 2024 will total $269.2 million, averaging $89.7 million annually.
Under President Biden’s leadership, the Pentagon has consistently advocated for the adoption of DEIA principles throughout its operations. The department’s Strategic Management Plan for fiscal years 2022 to 2026 articulated the objective of embedding DEIA principles across all DOD endeavors.
The plan underscores the far-reaching impact of DEIA, extending beyond human resources considerations to encompass the department’s workforce and mission. It emphasizes the need to institutionalize the promotion of DEIA and the recognition of diversity’s value in achieving the department’s mission objectives.
In fiscal year 2022, $68 million earmarked for DEIA programs primarily supported the Department of the Air Force. These funds were allocated to enhance training programs, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, including unconscious bias diversity training and increased aviation scholarships for underrepresented universities Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets.
In 2023, the $86.5 million allocation was directed toward dedicated diversity and inclusion activities, signifying the DOD’s commitment to advancing DEIA values and objectives in its operations.
While specific details regarding the utilization of the proposed $114.7 million for fiscal year 2024 remain undisclosed, the DOD has indicated that additional information will be made available in an upcoming “DEIA 2023 – 2027 Strategic Plan.”
Despite the absence of comprehensive funding details, the DOD has faced scrutiny over its promotion of Critical Race Theory and diversity initiatives. A recent revelation exposed the National Security Agency’s publication of a 34-page document that champions Critical Race Theory and transgender ideology, sparking controversy.
Critics argue that a focus on diversity and climate may detract from the military’s primary objective of ensuring lethality and national defense. Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL), a combat-decorated U.S. Army veteran, expressed concerns that such priorities could undermine the military’s ability to command respect from adversaries.
The DOD’s efforts to embrace DEIA principles extend to the creation of the Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in September 2022. General (Ret.) Lester Lyles was appointed as its chair, tasked with providing advice and recommendations to enhance racial/ethnic diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity within the military.
The debate over the DOD’s approach to diversity initiatives, including Critical Race Theory and other aspects of the diversity agenda, continues to spark conversations about its impact on the military’s core mission and national security. Democrats in the Senate have asserted that any budget proposals from House Republicans aimed at curbing diversity initiatives face substantial challenges in passing.