Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, his administration has delivered on campaign promises to impose radical social agendas on our military. The Center for Military Readiness is pleased to report that the 2016 Republican National Convention has resolved to objectively review and repair the damage.
CMR is non-partisan, but for months leading up to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, we worked in various ways to identify a potential Commander-in-Chief who shares our concerns. The 2016 presidential election will be critically important to the future of our military.
The process began in January we asked questions of Republican candidates with the 2016 Quadrennial CMR Presidential Candidate Survey. The dual purpose was to provide background and prepare the various candidates for public questions about CMR issues, and to inform voters of their responses to our survey questions.
Following a long series of primaries in which Donald J. Trump emerged as the nominee, we established contact with the Trump campaign to provide information prior to the writing of the 58-page 2016 Republican National Platform.
The resulting 14-page platform section titled “America Resurgent” includes nine planks of interest to CMR, plus many more statements on national defense that should encourage voters who are interested in national security. This set of solid statements regarding military/social issues provide a clear roadmap for reassessing and eventually reversing much of the damage done to our military since 2009.
Some people believe that a written platform has little meaning, but they are mistaken. The dynamic process of writing the document brings together in a small, intense environment scores of grassroots activists, experts on many topics, lawmakers, and campaign officials who may become part of a new administration that will have power to implement good ideas.
The first step is to recognize that problems exist and to restore sound priorities. The platform calls for an end to social experimentation and an honest assessment of problems that need to be corrected. Because unwise policies that the Obama administration imposed administratively can be undone in the same way, nine platform planks presented and analyzed below challenge the results of political correctness taken to extremes.
The platform approved in Cleveland provides a road map, but voters must choose wisely and demand that its principles be honored.1. Military Readiness, not Political Correctness
“We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept or continue attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness. We believe that our nation is most secure when the president and the administration prioritize readiness, recruitment, and retention rather than using the military to advance a social or political agenda. Military readiness should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.” (p. 44, emphasis added throughout)
Background: The Obama Administration has repeatedly used executive power to impose feminist agendas and LGBT law and regulations implementing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender agenda for the military, regardless of the harmful consequences. This statement puts Republicans squarely on the side of military personnel who have been subjected to political correctness taken to extremes, and signals a change in direction that would assign priority to military readiness, not social agendas.2. Objective Review and Correction of Military/Social Problems
“We call for an objective review of the impact on readiness of the current Administration’s ideology-based personnel policies, and will correct problems with appropriate administrative, legal, or legislative action.” (p. 44)
Background: On issues ranging from involuntary service for women in the combat arms to transgenders in the military, the need for honest evaluations and action to repair the damage done to our military since 2009 has become increasingly obvious. Instead of continuing Barack Obama’s social agenda without question, a Republican administration will objectively review the consequences of all social policies and restore sound priorities that put military readiness first.3. Women in Direct Ground Combat
“We reiterate our support for both the advancement of women in the military and their exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions.” (p. 43)
Background: Unchanging physical requirements in “tip of the spear” direct ground combat units; e.g., Army and Marine infantry, artillery, armor, Special Operations Forces and Navy SEALs, are extraordinary. The missions of fighting teams that seek out and attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action go beyond the experience of being “in harms’ way” in war zones, where women have served with honor and courage. In September 2015 the U.S. Marine Corps submitted a formal request for exceptions to the administration’s plans to eliminate women’s exemptions from the combat arms. Scientific research supported that request. In field tests, gender-mixed units underperformed 69 percent of the time. Physical differences that cannot be “mitigated” would have a serious negative effect on what the Marines called “survivability and lethality.”
On December 3, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter disregarded the Marines’ best professional advice. Secretary Carter announced plans to impose controversial policies known to impede combat effectiveness and speed while significantly increasing female injuries. In an official Army survey, 92.5 percent of women said they did not want to serve in direct ground combat units, but Secretary Carter confirmed that such assignments would not be voluntary.
Following an open and objective review of the Marine Corps’ 2015 research and developments since then, the next President should take appropriate action to restore combat effectiveness as the highest priority in all direct ground combat communities. In addition, Congress should take steps to codify sound policies regarding women in the military.4. Military Standards
“In particular, we warn against modification or lessening of standards in order to satisfy a nonmilitary agenda imposed by the White House.” (p. 44)
Background: In 2011 Obama Administration Pentagon leaders adopted as official policy recommendations of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC). The 2011 MLDC report, which is still cited by Defense Department officials, promoted as paramount goals women in land combat and “gender diversity metrics,” another name for quotas. The concept, which is not the same as non-discrimination or recognition of individual merit, promotes pre-determined demographic goals that have the effect of lowering standards to levels that are “gender-neutral” but lower than before. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus repeatedly has called for one in four Navy personnel to be women, even as he keeps denying the existence of gender quotas. In the interests of true equality, the next administration should end all pressures to achieve gender diversity quotas in the military.5. Support for the All-Volunteer Force, Not Compulsory National Service
“Our country’s all-volunteer force has been a success. We oppose the reinstatement of the draft, except in dire circumstances like world war, whether directly or through compulsory national service.” (p. 43)
Background: Volunteer service should be encouraged, but reinstatement of a military draft or mandatory national service, on a gender-neutral basis, would be unwarranted extensions of government power that would weaken the special culture of the all-volunteer force.6. Opposition to Registering Women for Selective Service
“[We] oppose unnecessary policy changes, including . . . Selective Service registration of women for a possible future draft.” (p. 43)
Background: In 1981 the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional young women’s exemption from Selective Service obligations, tying it to military women’s exemption from direct ground (infantry) combat. The court cited a Senate report affirming that the only legitimate purpose of registration or a draft is to find and train “combat replacements,” not support troops. The court also affirmed the right of Congress to exempt women for other rational, fact-based reasons.
Calling up thousands of potential female draftees, most of whom will not meet combat standards, would slow mobilization during a time of catastrophic national emergency, the worst possible time. Congress should review capabilities of the Selective Service system, applying standards of military readiness, not “gender equality.”7. Religious Liberty
“We support the rights of conscience of military chaplains of all faiths to practice their faith free from political interference. We reject attempts by the Obama Administration to censure and silence them, particularly Christians and Christian chaplains. We support an increase in the size of the Chaplain Corps. A Republican commander-in-chief will protect the religious freedom of all military members, especially chaplains, and will not tolerate attempts to ban Bibles or religious symbols from military facilities. A Republican commander-in-chief will also encourage education regarding the religious liberties of military personnel under both the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the current National Defense Authorization Act.”
Background: The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees rights of conscience and religious liberty for both chaplains and military personnel who are deployed far from home. Servicemen and women have a constitutional right to receive counsel from chaplains who are free to discuss matters of morality during all activities, not limited to worship services. Since 2011, there have been numerous attempts to censure and silence chaplains and people of faith, creating a "chilling effect" and fear of career penalties for exercising rights of religious liberty. In some of these cases, military personnel have had to seek legal defense.
In 2012 and 2013, Congress enacted legislation to protect rights of conscience and religious liberty for military chaplains and people of faith. The law bars adverse discrimination or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment. Chaplains continue to minister to persons of all faiths and backgrounds, as they always have, but they should not be required to endorse certain life choices that traditions of most major faiths consider to be wrong.8. Special Interest Demonstrations
“We affirm the cultural values that encourage selfless service and superiority in battle, and oppose anything which might divide or weaken team cohesion, including intra-military special interest demonstrations.” (pp. 43-44)
Background: Every year since 2009, the Obama White House has celebrated June as LGBT Pride Month. This and similar events at the Pentagon and many military bases have been used to promote special interest demands of LGBT groups demanding access and benefits for transgenders in the military. In response, the administration unilaterally extended protected civil rights status and medical benefits to transgendered personnel. In the same way that our military does not allow labor unions, activist events promoting LGBT Law and other special interest causes are inherently divisive and harmful to unit cohesion.9. Military Justice
“We oppose legislative attempts to modify the system of military justice that would undermine its fairness and due process rights for all concerned, both the accuser and the accused.” (p. 44)
Background: Constantly-increasing rates of sexual assault and retaliation against persons reporting harassment have given rise to many constructive reforms to improve military justice. Congress, however, has refused to pass misguided legislation to remove local commanders from decisions regarding prosecution of many crimes, including sexual assault. Legislation based on a presumption of guilt, not innocence, or the premise that accusations alone justify "victim" or "survivor" status, would be demoralizing and unjust.
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), commanders are accountable for everything that happens in their area of responsibility. This includes decisions to convene courts-martial or to impose career-ending non-judicial punishments. Military Judge Advocate Generals (JAGs) advise commanders on legal matters, but they do not need (or want) responsibilities of command. The best way to protect due process is to support and improve legal representation for both the accuser and the accused.10. Military Superiority
“Republicans continue to support American military superiority, which has been the cornerstone of a strategy that seeks to deter aggression or defeat those who threaten our vital national security interests.” (p. 42)
Background: The 14-page section of the 2016 Republican Platform, titled “America Resurgent,” includes many sound ideas to restore the strength of America’s military, and to restore respect for America worldwide. It begins by quoting Alexander Hamilton, who wrote in Federalist 23 that the first of the “principle” constitutional obligations of the federal government is to provide for the “common defense” of the United States. It also notes that President George Washington wisely reminded us that “to be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”
Our All-Volunteer Force is the only institution we have to defend America in a world that faces multiple threats and is far from peace. The statement above has reaffirmed that long-standing, important principle.
What Does the Democratic Platform Say?
The 46-page 2016 Democratic Party Platform, approved by a Platform Committee on July 21, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, includes seven pages with three sections titled “Principled Leadership, “Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans” and “Confront Global Threats.” The document criticizes Republican nominee Donald Trump for having “no strategy for dealing with key threats facing our country, including climate change and ISIS.” (p. 40)
Some provisions are similar to Republican planks, but three sentences state positions on women in direct ground combat and LGBT law in the military that are opposite those of the Republicans. The document does not comment on additional issues highlighted above, except for this statement, which assigns highest priority to inverted priorities on military/social issues:
“Our military is strongest when people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identifies are honored for their service to our country.” (p. 41)
In contrast, the Republican Platform states in four different places, “We are the party of peace through strength.” (p. 41) For voters concerned about national defense, the choices are clear.
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The Center for Military Readiness, founded in 1993, is an independent, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) public policy organization that reports on and analyzes military/social issues. Nothing in this article should be construed as an endorsement of any candidate. More information on all issues discussed is available on the CMR website, www.cmrlink.org.