As Air Force obsesses over diversity, equity, it’s hurting recruitment



The U.S. Air Force has become increasingly focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, and critics say it is hurting recruitment.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Charles Q. Brown has been a major backer of the DEI efforts. Brown said in the fall of 2020 that DEI was a key focal point of recruiting and a factor in promotions. The Air Force launched a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in September 2020.

The Air Force is not alone in that transition, though, as the Pentagon and other branches take similar steps to varying degrees.

“Shortly after assuming office, President Joe Biden signed three separate executive orders directing all federal agencies to commit extensive time and resources towards Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts,” Thomas Spoehr, a Heritage expert and retired lieutenant general who served more than 36 years in the U.S. Army, told The Center Square.

Brown helped open the Air Force’s DEI office. Now, the Air Force website includes a litany of materials on the issue cautioning against racism and “unconscious bias.”

An Independent Racial Disparity Review published in December 2020 on the same site includes a “Magnitude of the Problem” section in which the taxpayer-funded office reported that “black Airmen are more likely to face formal disciplinary action than their white peers.”

“Specifically, black service members were 74% more likely to receive Article 15s and 60% more likely to face courts-martial than white service members,” the report said. “The primary offenses where the difference could be seen were: willful dereliction, failure to go to/leaving from appointed place of duty, making a false official statement, and drug-related offenses. Data alone cannot provide insight on the cause of the racial disparity in Air Force discipline, and further analysis is required.”

The site also includes guidance on “Promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world” and an “In-Service Transition Guide for Transgender Service Members.”

Those materials include guidance on pronouns, gender identity and the Department of Defense’s new focus on ending “homophobia” and “transphobia” around the world.

The Air Force has implemented racial quota goals for officers that roughly line up with the representation those groups have in the general U.S. population.

“It is imperative that the composition of our military services better reflect our nation’s highly talented, diverse, and eligible population,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a memo with other top officials last year. “This goal continues our progress toward achieving a force more representative of our nation, while leveraging that diversity to enhance the Air and Space Force’s ability to deter, and if necessary, deny our nation’s competitors.”

Meanwhile, the Air Force faces major recruiting issues. Kendall said in a speech in March of this year that Active-duty Air Force is expected to fall short of its 2023 recruiting goal by 10%.

“We are swimming upstream against a reduced propensity to serve nationally across the board and a limited percentage of qualified candidates,” he said.

Spoehr argues that this shift in emphasis to DEI is hurting recruitment.

“Now in 2023 we are seeing some of the results of that push with American citizens and veterans reacting negatively to these political efforts,” Spoehr said. “Military recruitment is having its worst year ever and national polls reflect a loss of confidence by Americans in the military.”

As The Center Square previously reported, these instances are just a few of many across the U.S. military. A recent DOD Comptroller report includes $86.5 million for “dedicated diversity and inclusion activities.”

“The Department will lead with our values – building diversity, equity, and inclusion into everything we do,” the report said.

Congressional Republicans released a report last year detailing many of these examples, including one case where a slide show presentation for the Air Force Academy called “Diversity & Inclusion: What it is, why we care, & what we can do.” That training cautions cadets against using gendered language, such as words like “mom” and “dad.”

“These efforts have had a particularly deleterious impact on the Department of Defense which for decades has prided itself on its tradition of meritocracy where individuals can achieve their highest potential based on their aptitude and hard work, versus their race, sex, and ethnicity,” Spoehr said.


  1. Funny, I always thought that the mission of our armed forces was defense of the nation, not social engineering according to Marxist ideology.

    • It still is. The mission is still there. Its just the old leaders of the military branches are retired or passed. These are new leaders of another generation who replaced the outgoing. Who will be the next generation to replace this generation leading the military. More of the same or another generation more like their great great grandparents generation. Depends on who is enlisting and who continues serving to work their way up. You know that. You just being facetious again. This comment is for other readers needing encouragement to keep working on what they are called to do like Downing and her partners were called to start MRAK.

    • Then why do we have a Dept of HOMELAND Security? Who exactly does the DOD defend around the world?

      • Good point, Burtg. But notice that I did not say that my thoughts were necessarily correct, or that they were reflective of actual reality.

      • Our armed forces are here to defend the nation as a whole from foreign/outside foes and project power. The armed forces may not operate inside the country against its own people per our constitution. DHS was created as a umbrella organization to have DOMESTIC agencies and those only allowed to operate on foreign soil be able to communicate and coordinated in order to identify threats earlier. It is debatable how effective this is overall or if it is just another bureaucracy taking up space and slowing things down. As to the premise of the article, the armed forces have always been a fertile playground for politicians to social engineer (remember don’t ask don’t tell or the equal opportunity mandate). This iteration is clearly the worst and comparable to the aftermath of the French revolution when the tyrants changed the workweek to 10 days and renamed all the months of the year. That in the end did not go over very well either. When cadets can’t talk about mom & dad (whom they ostensibly signed up to protect) morale goes south.

  2. Why would any sane person sign up to join a military more concerned with pronouns and drag than being able to win a war?

    Our military, like our government, is run by non serious people.

    • If one is called to serve their neighbors and nation by serving in a military branch, it’s where he or she got to go. God may want a person somewhere for a purpose. After becoming a mother I learned running away from difficulty and because when someone not acting the way I want doesn’t help improve situations. The U.S military is Our nations military, we need to support those who sense their calling is enlisting in one of its branches. God may want to use them to protect His people or disciple other serviceman to Christ while the two work alongside one another.

      • Curious: did you serve? Or did God not call you to serve?

        My comments are based on knowing many who did and got out. For the reasons listed. Most of them are Christian.

        You really, really, really need to stop evangelizing. You do far more damage than good.

      • If one is called to serve, it will only be the he’s that are summoned as women are not required to register. As to whether or not they will ever implement the draft again is unlikely, unless we actually get into a full blown war with a real body count. these policing actions that we have been doing the last 20 years is not war, its a political football trying to impose a puppet government that will bend to the demands of our Government motives. i firmly believe that these policy changes to make the military “more inclusive” is absolutely ruining our ability to fight a real war. you cannot reduce our physical requirements and expect the same outcome. we will get beat and beat badly if we have to fight any close quarters combat.

        • What are the physical requirements to operate a drone? Do you think a gay man or woman can’t fly a drone and bomb someplace thousands of miles away? It’s like playing a video game, so it would seem that the upcoming “diversity generation” will be well skilled for a significant amount of future combat needs. The military is much larger than the folks who go door to door looking for insurgents.

          • Drones don’t take land, that takes a soldier on the ground. Yes we have nice weapons, but there is a limited supply and eventually there will be boots on the ground in order to fight a war. if you honestly believe that there is not a chance that we would not get into a close quarters situation, then you are gravely mistaken. i am not saying that women or gay people can’t perform jobs within the military, i am saying that reducing our physical requirements just so we can let women into certain jobs is a very bad idea.

          • Jaded, I beg to differ.
            Here a short synopsis from the autobiography of Norman Schwartzkopf: When the Iraqis surrendered, the US central command picked a “midway spot on the map to receive the official surrender”. It was belatedly discovered that the US had NO troops in that area and it was technically still held by Iraqis. While the Air Force had aerial superiority, it did not translate into actual physical ability to secure the site. Troops were move to secure the location, but it was an embarrassment.
            Jaded, this isn’t “Ender’s Game”. Do we need the drones for overwatch sure, but the real fighting at least for the foreseeable future will depend on people getting out there and getting it done. When valuable training time is used up to teach people about pronouns, you weaken their ability to make good decisions and complete the mission. I have no problem with inclusiveness as long as it means everyone is held to the same standard and feelings do not play into it at all. I don’t care who you are, I care that you can do the job and have your buddies back.

          • I think you are wrong, our minor policing actions have not been with another military that has modern weapons or force size to actually compete. do you honestly believe that Russia or China would continue to fight a war without putting soldiers on the ground? our modern confrontations have been with countries that do not have the resources to really challenge us and look what they were able to do. they basically fought a gorilla warfare and were able to push us out over time. we have not made war since Iraq, Desert Storm, and their equipment was 50 years older than ours. that is why we walked right through them.

    • Masked Avenger you’re right . Who would volunteer for the forced jab and the threat of being kicked out if you don’t comply with the alphabet group and their form of censorship? To risk your life for liars and crooks doesn’t sound like a good job for anyone.

      • Soldiers have been required to get a litany of vaccines for decades–I have one vet friend who got hepatitis from his vaccination round in the early 80s. Was it a great idea to volunteer to go to Vietnam? Beyond WWII, how many military interventions would the majority of the population be inclined to join? Hasn’t the military always been command and control of its forces?

        • No, our military answers to the president, who is not a military member, and in many cases never even served in the military. recent military actions have been extremely limited in that the military has been hamstrung by congress and the other civilian leaders that have limited what the rules of engagement have been. we have been told to go fight with one hand tied behind our backs and then told we lost that fight.

          Have you ever served in the military, my guess is no?

  3. The left wants to destroy the USA. They want to destroy individual liberty and freedoms. They want an all powerful State to be your first and only relationship. They could never do this with military might. An all volunteer military will be comprised of too many people who joined to protect the very freedoms the left despises.
    Destroy the military’s morale, destroy their standards, destroy any incentive to fight for the USA. The men and women who join the military to serve and protect the very freedoms this country was based on will stop joining. Soon, the military will become a way to move up in the Party, to get the perks that loyal party membership provide, not the perk of service to your countrymen.
    And, what better way to do that than to place DIE as the highest priority? Why strive to join any special forces unit, when your fighting companion would have gotten the same position simply because of what they are? Why train harder, educate yourself, and serve with valor, only to be passed over for promotion because you are not a favored class? Why join at all?
    Want to destroy the USA?
    Destroy our social mores. If you create a social rot within the US military, overpowering them becomes easy.

    • Exactly. That should be the correct order as it is where sanity and logic have indeed DIEd.

  4. Three executive orders that are doing serious damage to the US armed forces. Who actually composed these orders along with the others Joe signed shortly after assuming office? It was not Joe. People need to know who is behind the curtain and what their real agenda is.

  5. If you want to destroy a country, the military is where you start. We need to thank all of our military members for sticking it out during this period. None of them are enjoying this not that being in the military was that much fun before the present administration. The large majority of our military is compromised of normal and highly dedicated individuals. We should all hope that they will ride this out for another year, knowing that we all support them, and better times are coming when they can again be proud to wear the uniform of the greatest fighting force in the world.

  6. diversity and equity, I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m getting sick and tired of reading about this. I’m tired of having this crap shoved down my throat, pardon the pun and into my mind going against my beliefs. But i don’t have the right to say so? Its turning the united states into a bunch of whinny ass babies. Did I hurt your feelings yet? Get over it.

  7. I’m not too worried about it. There’s always going to be enough confident pilots to fly our planes and enough competent ground crews to keep them playing. I don’t need to know if somebody got butt hurt over somebody talking about their mom or dad instead of the entity that provided for me as an infant. I really don’t give a damn.

    • “There’s always going to be enough confident pilots to fly our planes and enough competent ground crews to keep them playing.”
      That is not the issue here.
      The issue here is why are they flying the planes? Why did they join the military? What was their motivation for joining?
      This DIE garbage is going to drive the patriots away from the military, and instead it will become an avenue for party loyalists to gain political favor. The inevitable outcome of that shift is a military that will protect the DC swamp instead of protecting the US citizens.

  8. Both of my sons were proud graduates of Alaska Military Youth Academy in the top 10%

    They were both very excited to join the Air Force/Coast Guard.

    They were looking forward to the extensive training they would receive which would assist them in life.

    Joe Biden became president and the Afghanistan disaster opened their eyes as to how one mans ignorance can ruin so many lives including Hunters.

    Then came DEI and the drag queens.
    As of now nobody can drag them near a recruiters office who are offering enormous amounts of money and benefits. They have no desire to join a s**tshow circus and sit in the back of the bus behind the colored alphabet crew and be shunned for being white conservatives.

    They have learned how the chief commanding officer can ruin the morale of the entire military.

    They are both currently employed apprentices by successful conservative owned businesses and on their way to successful careers doing what they love to do. They are continually hounded by recruiters with bigger rewards.and both respond with the same “Take your job and shove it”.

    America has the military they voted for and will pay the ultimate price for that choice.

  9. Who knew?? You tell people in your target for recruitment that they suck.they stop signing up!! Imagine that!!

  10. By design, DEI and ESG were specifically tailored to bring down large corporations (AB), create incompetence (Biden’s entire cabinet), create division, and weaken our military. It’s working wonderfully.

    • And if we are attacked by an unfriendly country, everyone is a winner. Pick up your participation trophies in the end.

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