The Department of the Navy is freezing diversity and inclusion training for sailors and Marines, a move that comes after an executive order was signed in September barring the armed services from conducting training suggesting the United States is “fundamentally racist.”
According to an ALNAV message released this month, the Department of the Navy will “suspend all civilian and military personnel training relating to diversity and inclusion.” In order for training for military personnel to restart, the Navy and Marine Corps must receive a stamp of approval from the assistant secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs after submitting proposals for training certification.
That will require the Navy and the Marine Corps to provide information including the course name, whether the course is mandatory or not, along with a course description, syllabus, and “agenda” and other pertinent information.
The change stems from an executive order which argued that diversity training asserting the U.S. is an “irredeemably racist and sexist” country undermines the armed forces.
“[The] Uniformed Services should not teach our heroic men and women in uniform the lie that the country for which they are willing to die is fundamentally racist,” President Donald Trump wrote in the Sept. 22 order. “Such teachings could directly threaten the cohesion and effectiveness of our Uniformed Services.”
According to the executive order, “many people” have promoted a “different vision of America” that is based on a hierarchy of certain social and political identities — not one that values the “equal dignity of every person as an individual.”
“This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans,” Trump wrote in the order.
Meanwhile, the services have launched various task forces and diversity projects this year following the death of George Floyd, a Black man prosecutors say was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer in May. When then-Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright, who is Black, decided to speak out about his experiences as a person of color in the military, DoD officials knew they had to address the issue of race.
The services and the top levels of the Pentagon all set about creating task forces to improve diversity and inclusion within the services.
For example, the Navy created Task Force One Navy in June in order to address systemic racism within the service, evaluate the racial disparity in the military justice system, and examine the promotion and advancement process, among other things to eliminate “destructive biases” in the service.
“As a Navy, we cannot tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said in a video released in June. “We must work to identify and eliminate individual and systemic racism within our force.”
Task Force One Navy will carry on despite the pause in diversity training. That’s because the task force is designed to study issues related to racism and sexism rather than administer training on these topics, according to Cmdr. Dave Hecht, a spokesman for the chief of naval personnel.
“As TF1N does not conduct training, the release of the ALNAV has no direct impact on its mission,” Hecht said in a statement to Navy Times. “TF1N continues to conduct listening sessions to identify areas in our Navy that detract from readiness, such as racism, sexism and other structural and interpersonal biases.”
The services have so far taken several steps this year to reduce bias and discrimination across the military. That includes the Navy and the Marine Corps' announcement in June to ban the Confederate battle flag from public spaces and work areas on military installations.