The nation’s top military officer touted “diversity” as one of the United States military’s “key strengths” on Wednesday, amid a push by the Biden administration to make race a top issue at the Pentagon.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley made the remarks at a commissioning ceremony for graduating ROTC cadets at Howard University, one of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.
“One of the key strengths of the American military is our diversity and fighting for a common cause, and we must get better,” he said.
He said when black Air Force Chief of Staff C.Q. Brown was first commissioned as a second lieutenant, only two percent of pilots in the U.S. Air Force were African American.
“Today, there’s still only two percent pilots in the United States Air Force that are African American,” Milley said.
Milley lamented that although the U.S. military is almost 20% black and over 40% people of color, only two of 41 four-star generals are black.
“Opportunity in our military must be reflective of the diverse talent in order for us to stay strong. Our nation is ready to fulfill the promise of our Constitution to build a more perfect union and to ensure equal justice for all people,” he said.
He told the graduating cadets: “It is your generation that can and will bring the joint force to be truly inclusive of all people and ultimately our unity is our greatest strength as a nation. The Constitution will be your guide. We must all and always strive to create a more perfect union.”
The Biden administration’s push comes after a summer of racial protests and strife, erupting from the police-involved death of African American man George Floyd and leading up to the 2020 presidential elections.
Milley was harshly criticized by Democrats for being perceived as supporting former President Donald Trump when he walked with him across Lafayette Square after the White House was almost overrun by protesters and police subsequently cleared the square. Milley later apologized for walking with Trump.
President Joe Biden pledged he would never politicize the military. However, the Pentagon under the Biden administration pursued a liberal agenda which includes reversing former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender recruits with gender dysphoria, creating a permanent counter-extremism working group after some military veterans participated in the January 6 protests at the Capitol, and pushing diversity initiatives across services and combatant commands such as Special Operations Command.