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Army Corps of Engineers to Solve “Nation’s Toughest Engineering Challenges” Through “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”

Army Corps of Engineers to Solve “Nation’s Toughest Engineering Challenges” Through “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”

As a former military professional, one of the worst aspects of this plan is the crushing bureaucracy that the Plan creates.

The U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers is an unsung but incredibly important part of our national security apparatus. Check out this short video for a great summary of everything the Corps of Engineers has done and does today on a daily basis:

So, if you’re an organization that helped defend Bunker Hill from the British during the revolutionary war, helped build the Panama Canal, maintain U.S. waterways every day, etc., what could you possibly do to up your game and be even better at your core missions?

Publish a brand new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan, of course! You can read the plan yourself here (although that might not be advisable due to the pain of wading through the buzzword jungle that such a plan embraces):

Fortunately for you, I have done the dirty work for you and am here to give you a short update (you’re welcome).

First, there actually are some good nuggets in this plan.

For example, in his introductory “vision” statement, the Commanding General of the Corps of Engineers, Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, extols the plan’s virtues because accomplishing the Corps’ mission requires “DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT!” I couldn’t agree more, although that is about the only place in the entire plan that you will see that idea openly stated. In addition, the Plan states that it will accomplish its mission by focusing on “recruiting, hiring, developing, promoting, and retaining the best and brightest talent America has to offer.” Again, bravo, we should do nothing less.

The problem is that these two positive statements get all but drowned out by the woke buzzword sludge that constitutes the rest of the Plan.

For example, the Plan, in the same paragraph that talks about hiring the best and brightest, says that the Corps of Engineers “should have a workforce that reflects the diversity of the American people.” So, which is it? Are we going to hire the best and brightest? Or are we going to hire with quotas to ensure that the workforce mirrors the racial composition of the American people? It’s possible, I suppose, that an organization could do both at exactly the same time, but that seems unlikely, and what happens if hiring a workforce that reflects the diversity of the American people does not entail hiring the best and brightest? What then? The Plan has no answer. But it certainly implies, since in it diversity is king, that the idea of hiring the best and brightest, while aspirational, must give way to diversity.

But should it? Well, the Plan does say that “[a] growing body of evidence demonstrates that diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible workplaces yield higher-performing workplaces.” But the Plan cites no evidence for that statement, and a growing chorus seems to refute that statement. See the following, not only from organizations that lean right, but from a wide spectrum of viewpoints:

I could cite dozens more articles saying the same thing, but the last one, subtitled “The worst of the industry is expensive and runs from useless to counterproductive,” and published in the left-leaning Atlantic, notes that “if DEI consultants made life better for marginalized groups or people of color or any other identifiable cohort within a given corporation or organization, or boosted corporate profits so that their fees paid for themselves, the industry could be justified on different terms. But most DEI consulting fails those tests.”

So maybe DEI doesn’t guarantee “higher-performing workplaces,” and maybe even more important, how is it fair, not to mention legal, or moral, for the Army Corps of Engineers to promote not the best and brightest person for a job, but one who checks a diversity box? The Plan is silent on that as well.

As a former military professional, one of the worst aspects of this plan is the crushing bureaucracy that the Plan creates. Keep in mind that while I can’t speak for the Army, I can tell you unequivocally that every Navy command I ever was attached to, including my own command, USS Toledo (SSN-769), was undermanned, over-tasked, and came with unrelenting operational and bureaucratic requirements that had to be prioritized and could not all be accomplished in the time and manpower allotted. So keep this in mind when you ponder the following:

The Army Corps of Engineers DEI Plan creates a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), who doubles as the Director of the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Diversity, and Inclusion Office (EDI).

There is a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Council (DEIAC) headed by the Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General with the Chief Diversity Officer serving as the Executive Secretary of the DEIAC. The DEIAC will have representatives from every department and office in the Army Corps of Engineers, and will form “workgroups” that will “help formulate and execute the [DEI] Plan.” These workgroups are presumably the same people who will engage in “evidence-based data collection, analysis, and assessment” to see if the Plan is working. The Plan describes the DEIA Council as a “groundbreaking” “task force” that will “provide a continuous assessment of  progress yielding results and a cultural shift as necessary to enhance the needs and talents of the entire workforce.”

Of course the Plan is silent as to how anybody involved in this will the time required to do it properly.

Quoting my favorite military Substack writer, Commander Salamander, who recently commented on another military bureaucracy, this one for innovation in Navy operations, that was created without much forethought as to how the group’s work might get done:

So, the solution to an accretion encumbered bureaucratic system is to create yet another layer of bureaucracy and demand time from other already existing bureaucracies overtasked with already existing projects they are underperforming on? That’s the plan?…

I could not have said it better myself.

The Plan also says that to execute the DEI Plan the Army Corps of Engineers will “build the DEIA infrastructure accompanied by an appropriate budget and resource allocation plan,” but is silent as to where that money is going to come from and who will have the time to develop the resource allocation plan. Military money does not grow on trees, and if the Army Corps of Engineers is spending money on this DEI Plan, they are necessarily taking it away from something else.

One final point, the Plan, in the “Expansion of Equity” section states that the Army Corps of Engineers:

will expand the traditional grouping of underserved populations beyond race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and gender to ensure our policies and organizational procedures do not negatively impact people due to other identifiers, such as parental or caregiver status, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and all other gender identities or sexual orientations not specifically covered by the other seven listed identities and orientations (LGBTQIA+), socioeconomic status, and disability.

I’m not sure exactly what that means, and I’m not sure I want to know. But the Plan promises that this is a good thing, I think.

In sum, there isn’t much to like about this Plan. Unfortunately, I am sure that such Plans are to be found pretty much everywhere in the federal government these days. Elections matter.


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You solve tough engineering problems by hiring people who like tough engineering problems. You find them among white males.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to rhhardin. | October 4, 2023 at 7:28 am

    There are rare examples of competent people of color, the problem is Affirmative’s will get people killed with their incompetence.

      Nailed it.. the awful thing is that it will get covered up.

      wagnert in atlanta in reply to JohnSmith100. | October 5, 2023 at 11:47 am

      “Competent people of color” are not really rare. But they are scarce enough that they’re hard to find when you’re searching for one to “balance the workforce.” Not to mention that they’re smart enough to sniff out a “token black” position.

      Who would want to leave a real job, where you get to solve real problems and be congratulated for doing so, for a “job” that consists of sitting in a show window to be shown off to visiting brass, and have your actual talents ignored because of the color of your skin?

    Martin in reply to rhhardin. | October 4, 2023 at 11:53 am

    Creative people that understand math and physics come in all races and creeds. They often do not come in an exact ratio to the general population. Anytime you arbitrarily decide that the next person you hire needs to fit in a box that does not have a direct effect on competence in the job you reduce your chance of getting the best available person at the time.

UnCivilServant | October 4, 2023 at 7:41 am

So, more people are going to die on the altar of racism when these engineering projects fail catastrophically.

I’m going to have to make sure I’m not living anywhere that’s liable to flood when the works of the diversity hires fail.

nordic prince | October 4, 2023 at 7:42 am

DEI is nothing but a massive, elaborate grift.

    Ty Mr. Prince… Equity is just another word for some kind of ism.. Marxism??
    Why would our military want to promote that? I have questions.

      Virginia42 in reply to amwick. | October 4, 2023 at 10:26 am

      Military leadership has been undermined for years now–all those Obamunist era officers getting promoted. Now we are seeing the result.

    It is not even elaborate. It is simple obvious and in your face. It directly tells threatens you if you try to go against it. It is more like an armed robbery than a grift.

Many of the aqueducts built by Romans two thousand years ago still stand as monuments to their former greatness. Rome squandered greatness as all great nations must it seems.

2smartforlibs | October 4, 2023 at 9:10 am

When I have an engineering issue, I want someone who knows what they are doing, not someone who hits rungs on an intersectionality ladder.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to 2smartforlibs. | October 4, 2023 at 9:32 am

    The same is true with many other disciplines, where we do not want 2nd best or ……..100th best. We are seeing the same in Congress, where average IQ has dropped about 30 points over the past few decades.

Wait, . . . “… diversity of thought …”?? Isn’t that the very thing that DEI folks DON’T allow?

It must be a misprint.

Booker T. Washington | October 4, 2023 at 11:19 am

“No greater injury can be done to any youth than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race he will be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts.”

~ Booker T. Washington.

No one has to accept this kind of blatant second class citizen treatment— not in job applications, not at lunch counters, not with back-of-the-bus rules.

The solutions may not be without inconvenience, but they exist. For example, take your training and experience, and go overseas. If they don’t speak English, learn their language. It’ll take time but most native-speakers will be patient with you.

And good heavens what choice does a young American have? Who would want to have to work amongst marginally competent coworkers—and have to remain silent? Yuck!!

When life serves up lemons, make lemonade.

(And a soothing reminder: MANY MANY people before you have had to emigrate because of political changes in their country of birth. The USA is filled with them. And their grandchildren. So stop whining, and get on with it.)


Once upon a time in the US military officers and Senior Staff NCOs managed the welfare of their personnel while training them and preparing/leading them in combat.

Now there are civilian ‘Chief Diversity Officers’ who tell them what to do and how to do it in order to maintain the purity of their support for the agenda.

You know who else does/did that? The Commissar Political Officers in Communist Armies. They are officials of the Communist Party in charge of political indoctrination and the enforcement of party loyalty.

Sound familiar?

So far as it goes the statement that we SHOULD have a.workforce that reflects the diversity of the American people’ isn’t all that objectionable. It is expressing an aspirational goal. So far so good. It’s what comes next that is the real problem. How exactly do we achieve that?

If we want to hire the best qualified people who reflect the current diversity of the American people who chose to do the hard work of becoming the best qualified engineers then sure, no problem. If instead we mean we’re gonna hire less qualified folks based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation among other things to meet preordained mandatory quotas then hell no.

Unfortunately we all understand exactly which option the folks in charge will choose to utilize. They gonna hire based on immutable characteristics in some cases like race or sex and sheer fantasy in others, trans, my little pony folks and other mentally deranged individuals.

How about we just get low performing public schools to do their job? Get students prepared to enter the workforce and for some, though not all, College? Hold Parents to a simple standard; it’s their responsibility to ensure their children show up to k-12 well rested, fed, prepared to learn and not be a disruption or distraction? If the Parents can’t/won’t meet that basic responsibility then maybe these folks have no business being Parents.

If the Corps of Engineers really wants an engineering challenge and some busy work, we got about 2,000 Mi of border wall that could be built.

My engineering experience is that workplace competence is not related to racial or sex demographics. But the interest in engineering profession (as with many other disciplines) has some correlation with demographics. So arbitrarily determining the demographic mix for a workforce ignoring the natural dynamics of demographic self selection for any discipline will be inimitable to achieving mission excellence. (Try a thought exercise to have an organization that “looks like America” for work forces heavy in any one of nursing, construction, coal mining, engineering, professional football, Chinese language teachers, … and ask is this the best mix for the mission?)

The overhead to achieve their questionable goal will be stifling to actually accomplishing the mission which should be the primary focus. There is an opportunity cost to adding DEI administrators. What other activity could one do with that budget to further the mission?

I find it is ironic that, across the board in any organization, there is little diversity in the diversity administrators.

It is a fundamental error to assume that individuals deterministically inherit properties from a group. Not only are group properties statistical in nature and not determinate but also each individual brings forward their own characteristics such as drive, intelligence, experience, that are not predicted based on any group “membership”.

It’s not like the COE administration is Speedy Gonzales responsive, even on its best days.

COE runs a fair number of unimproved and primitive RV campsites on public land. Since the Nixon administration, they have had a “no firearms” regulation for campers.† This regulation was challenged (and defeated) in a lawsuit (Nesbitt v. US Army COE) and every appeal, and was about to hit SCOTUS in 2014, when the COE announced there was no reason because they were “currently reconsidering their firearm ban.” That was nine years and three presidents ago, and they’re apparently still “reconsidering” — nothing has changed, despite one of the appeal courts having ruled quite flatly that the regulation was unconstitutional.

†(In fact, this prohibition is general across almost all COE properties except hunting lands and firing ranges… I concentrate on campgrounds because—aside from the rights-based argument—RVers are more likely to be on extended, multi-stop trips where the presence or absence of firearms in their “residence” is already a fait accompli; as opposed to sportsmen and visitors who might day-trip to COE properties and could elect to leave their firearms home for a day.)

I believe it has been scientifically proven that if you paint a bridge in rainbow colors, the bridge becomes much stronger. (SOURCE: Journal of Irreproducible Results, January 2022).

thalesofmiletus | October 4, 2023 at 11:52 pm

[[[For example, the Plan, in the same paragraph that talks about hiring the best and brightest, says that the Corps of Engineers “should have a workforce that reflects the diversity of the American people.” So, which is it?]]]

It is both. They Venn diagrams match up exactly. If you believe otherwise, you’re a wrecker that’s responsible for The Plan failing and should be removed from the population.

It’s like how Equality of Opportunity must always result in Equality of Outcome because people are fungible, and if the outcomes are not equal, it was obviously due only to Systemic Racism and no other cause.

Add this as another mistake of the Corp. Look at how many times they can’t figure out how to release water.

Maybe we have this whole discrimination thing backwards. Instead of compiling an ever-growing list of entities against whom we may not discriminate under such-and-such conditions (which themselves are subjectively open to debate), perhaps we should focus on those areas where discrimination is to be acceptable: that companies can only discriminate on the basis of merit and competence.

And it would be interesting to see how people would seek to expand such a list as this.

CaliforniaJimbo | October 5, 2023 at 1:53 pm

Dear Army Corps of Engineers,
The only attributes I want you to stress when it comes to the bridges I cross, the roads I travel on, or the levees I live behind are as follows:

That is all