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:
- Diversity training does more harm than good
- DEI Doesn’t Work—Taxpayers Shouldn’t Pay for It
- The DEI industry really isn’t about diversity, equity OR inclusion
- The DEI Industry Needs to Check Its Privilege
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.DONATE
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