The U.S. command that oversees Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Delta Force and other covert warriors has hired its first “chief of diversity and inclusion.”
U.S. Special Operations Command announced on Twitter that Richard Torres-Estrada will join headquarters staff at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida, to shepherd diverse hiring in a profession marked by rigorous standards. A Facebook account under his name says he was the equal opportunity officer for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
“USSOCOM welcomes our new Chief of Diversity & Inclusion, Mr. Richard Torres-Estrada,” said the command, which directs about 70,000 elite troops, both active and reserve, as well as a civilian workforce. “We look forward to his contribution in enhancing the capabilities and effectiveness of #SOF through diversity of talent, helping us recruit the best of the best.”
The press release came the same day Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, SoCom commander, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said he is guarding against extremism in the ranks and fighting it overseas.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, special operations forces have conducted hundreds of secret missions in the war against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other hot spots. The Navy’s SEAL Team 6 killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden; the Army’s Delta Force killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In terms of making the SEALs more inclusive, its Basic Underwater Demolition program is extremely demanding for males. Only about 30% graduate at the end of a 24-week course.
One of the first orders from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was to impose a “stand down” so troops could be drilled in anti-extremism.
To conservatives, the Torres-Estrada hiring is another signal the President Biden-led U.S. armed forces are going “woke” — that is, embracing the ethos of left-wing social justice movements.
A Twitter user commented: “Look at his work history on LinkedIn. Government diversity career professional. no mention of uniform service. Not sure how this improves USSOCOM as an organization.”
Said another: “I thought SOCOM was a meritocracy.”
And another posted: “Our enemies are laughing at us.”
A former Green Beret who served in Afghanistan told The Washington Times: “They are just following the steps of big corporations in response to the woke movement. Admittedly though, the military has always had EO training and the like, which consists of reps across the units. So it isn’t surprising nor that much of a shock.”
Gen. Clarke is an Army Ranger and former commandant of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and assumed the SoCom command in March 2019.
On Thursday, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the “urgent need to remove the scourges of sexual assault and extremism within the force has our full attention Extremist and dissident ideologies conflict with our constitutional obligations and corrode cohesion, discipline, and public trust. USSOCOM is fully engaged in DOD’s effort to remove behaviors that promote discrimination, hate or harassment.”
Last week, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby was asked about the stand down and what’s next.
“I don’t have any policy changes or directives to announce,” he said. “But as I’ve also said before, the secretary wants to keep an open mind about what we can do to better address this problem. And that would include how we recruit, how we train and maintain and lead people once they’re in the ranks and how do we get them ready for being civilians again. And how much are we making them aware and informing them about what and who is waiting for them on the other side.”
The Biden administration has put much emphasis on military social issues in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol. A percentage of those arrested are veterans.
Republicans say the anti-extremism drill is putting emphasis on right-wing groups such as White supremacists and little on left-wing extremists who led destructive riots across the nation last summer during anti-police brutality protests.
Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, believes the extremism fears are overstated.
“We lack any concrete evidence that violent extremism is as rife in the military as some commentators claim,” he said at a hearing last week on extremism in the military. “Since [Oct. 1, 2019] nine soldiers have been separated from the Army for misconduct where extremism was a factor. Nine out of nearly 1 million. Since 2018, 17 marines have been separated for extremism, gang, or dissident activity. Seventeen, over three years, out of over 200,000. While I agree with my colleagues that these numbers should be zero, this is far from the largest military justice issue facing our armed services.”
A sign of how committed the Biden Pentagon is to race and gender issues arose earlier this month when Fox News’ Tucker Carlson lambasted the military for what he said were misplaced priorities, such as an emphasis on promoting women.
In an unusual move, senior armed forces leaders, including Mr. Kirby and multistar generals, in unison rebuked the commentator.
“Women lead our most lethal units with character. They will dominate ANY future battlefield we’re called to fight on,” tweeted Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston. “@TuckerCarlson’s words are divisive, don’t reflect our values. We have THE MOST professional, educated, agile, and strongest NCO Corps in the world.”
Many media commentators have criticized the military over the years, but none appeared to have prompted such a coordinated attack as did Mr. Carlson.
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