(The Center Square) — President Joe Biden’s nominee to Chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff helped spearhead the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion movement at the Air Force and now faces formal Inspector General complaints over his pledge to promote and hire subordinates based on race.
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Charles Q. Brown is expected to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday as the next step in his nomination process.
Brown has been a major backer of the DEI efforts at the Air Force, which has joined other branches in embracing the DEI agenda. The Air Force launched a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in September 2020, and Brown said in the fall of 2020 that DEI was a key point of recruiting and a factor in promotions.
“I hire for diversity, because they all bring a different perspective, which makes my decisions that much better, because I hear different sides of the argument,” Brown said in November of 2020 as part of a virtual event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Hearing from all these different groups provides a perspective…It makes us stronger as an Air Force, and I think it makes us stronger as a nation as well.”
The American Accountability Foundation gave The Center Square an advance copy of an Inspector General complaint to be filed Monday against Brown, pointing to several media interviews where Brown says he considers race as a factor in hiring and promotion.
“General Brown has made statements in favor of making hiring and promotion decisions in the Air Force based on race, as well as monitoring the private beliefs of recruits, airmen, officers, and employees with the intention of censoring those beliefs,” the complaint said.
Critics say Brown’s actions violate the equal protection clause, free speech, and the Department of Defense code of conduct. They point to the Secretary of the Air Force’s official Air Force Policy Directive 36-27 from March of 2019, which states:
“It is against Air Force policy for any Airman, military or civilian to unlawfully discriminate, harass, intimidate, or threaten a military or civilian Airman on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation. In addition, it is unlawful to discriminate, harass, intimidate, or threaten a civilian Airman based on age, disability, genetic information, gender indentity as a form of sex discrimination, reprisal, or any other non-merit factors prohibited by statute, regulation, or Executive Order.”
Federal law currently prohibits discriminating against candidates in hiring based on race.
“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,” Thomas Spoehr, a Heritage expert and retired lieutenant general who served more than 36 years in the U.S. Army, told The Center Square, adding that he believes the push is hurting recruitment.
As The Center Square previously reported, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a speech earlier this year that Active-duty Air Force is expected to miss its 2023 recruiting goal by 10%.
Democrats, and some Republicans, though, have welcomed Brown’s nomination, meaning blocking his nomination could be an uphill battle.
“As the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, I have valued General Brown’s extensive experience, focus, and thoughtfulness, all qualities he would bring to the role of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a statement after the nomination was announced. “He has served at the highest levels in the INDO-PACOM theater and understands what is necessary to deter China. I look forward to the Armed Services Committee swiftly considering his nomination to ensure a smooth transition for the country’s highest uniformed position.”