Air Force General Who Will Replace Mark Milley Downplays Memo He Signed Calling for Race-Based Applicant Pools

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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. “CQ” Brown, Jr. — whom President Joe Biden has selected to replace Gen. Mark Milley as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his top military adviser — on Tuesday downplayed a memo he signed in August 2022 that set officer applicant pool goals by race.

During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday with the Senate Armed Services Committee, Brown was asked repeatedly by Republican senators about the August 2022 memo, which called for the Air Force to set “applicant pool goals” for officers according to percentages of race.

The memo, dated August 9, 2022, called for the Air Force’s officer applicant pool to be 67.5% White, 15% Hispanic/Latino, 13% Black/African American, 10% Asian, 1.5% American Indian/Native Alaskan, and 1% Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.

The percentages were then broken down into gender, calling for about a third of the applicant pool to be women.

The memo said:

Diversity and inclusion are an essential part of our society and key to the success of any organization. As such, it is imperative that the composition of our Military Services better reflect our Nation’s highly talented, diverse, and eligible population.

This memorandum updates Department of the Air Force officer applicant pool goals, broken down by race, ethnicity, and gender.

The memo added the caveat: “These goals are aspirational, aligning resources to invest in our long-term objectives and will not be used in any manner that undermines our merit-based processes.”

However, it instructed the service’s Air Education and Training Command and Air Force Academy leaders to “develop a diversity and inclusion outreach plan aimed at achieving these goals no later than 30 September 2022.”

“In addition, you will report annually on your progress outlining those initiatives your organizations are undertaking to enhance officer applicant pool diversity and inclusion,” it said.

The memo was signed by the Air Force’s top four civilian and military leaders.

Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO) said at the hearing that he was “saddened to see this in a memo, of this obsession with sort of race-based politics injected into our military.”

Brown argued the percentages were simply “application goals” based on the demographics of the nation, and not the “actual makeup of the force.” He also argued it was an attempt to reach out to more populations.

“The goal is to tap into all the talent across our nation. And that memo, outline output and goals and the goal there was to actually outreach to the broader aspects across the nation and show them the opportunities to join the force,” he said.

Brown also denied that calling for applicant pools based on race meant there were quotas. “We do not have quotas. That’s against policy for us to have quotas,” he said.

Schmitt said he also wanted to recruit the “best and brightest from every community, regardless of your race or your gender or ethnicity,” but slammed the memo’s endorsement of “diversity and inclusion” — terms used by critical race theorists who argue for awarding opportunities based on race and gender.

Schmitt said:

[T]hat’s not what DEI is. DEI is an ideology based in cultural Marxism. And somehow, some way, we ended up in a place where a general in the Air Force is advocating for racial quotas, whether it be by applicants , or the number of officers or maybe the total unit. And I just think that’s wrong.

During the hearing, Brown promised he would remain “non-political.”

“I will stay non-partisan, non-political [if] confirmed. And I set that same expectation throughout the force, that we need to stay out of politics and stay non-partisan, non-political,” he said. “That’s what [commander in chief] expected of the nation, for U.S. military members to support the Constitution of the United States, and stay out of politics.”

However, Brown has himself waded into political issues.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd and subsequent riots, Brown, who was at the time nominated as Air Force chief of staff, filmed an emotional and personal video about race, saying:

As the commander of Pacific Air Forces, a senior leader in our Air Force, and an African American, many of you may be wondering what I’m thinking about the current events surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd. I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion not just for George Floyd, but the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd.

I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality. I’m thinking about my Air Force career, where I was often the only African American in my squadron or as a senior officer, the only African American in the room. I’m thinking about the pressure I felt that perform error free, especially for supervisors I perceived had expected less from me as an African American. I’m thinking about having to represent by working twice as hard to prove their expectations and perceptions of African Americans were invalid. I’m thinking about the airmen who don’t have this life similar to mine, and don’t have to navigate through two worlds. Thinking about how these airmen view racism, where they don’t see it as a problem, since it doesn’t happen to them, or whether they’re empathetic. I’m thinking about our two sons and how we had to prepare them to live in two worlds. Fine, I’m thinking about my historic nomination to be the first African American to serve as the Air Force Chief of Staff. I’m thinking about the African Americans that went before me to make this opportunity possible.

In addition, after the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, he joined other military leaders in condemning it as “a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process.”

“We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection,” the memo said. “On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief.”

The memo was signed by Milley and other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Milley famously defended Critical Race Theory during a congressional hearing, saying he wanted to learn about “white rage” after the Capitol riot.

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