Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and her colleagues passed the annual defense bill out of the House Armed Services Committee, which includes several of Rep. Speier’s transformative provisions to address longstanding racial and ethnic disparities in the military and eliminate white supremacy and violent extremism in the ranks.
“The events of recent weeks have forced Americans to confront the deep, structural racial inequality in our country,” Chair Speier said. “The U.S. military also has longstanding and pervasive problems with racial disparities, and we took bold action in this week’s defense policy bill markup, including adoption of my amendments to create a new Special Inspector General to investigate white supremacy in our ranks and racial and ethnic disparities in military personnel and military justice systems; enact a new criminal article under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to address extremism and root out white supremacists; and require the military services to set goals—and create a plan to achieve them—for representation of women and people of color among the officer corps and high-ranking enlisted servicemembers. I look forward to fighting to retain these provisions in conference with the Senate and in final passage of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.”
Rep. Speier’s NDAA provisions to address racial inequities include:
- Aggressively Investigate Disparities in the Military: A new Special Inspector General would investigate the causes of underrepresentation of minorities within the officer corps and higher ranks of enlisted servicemembers, the overrepresentation of servicemembers of color in military justice proceedings, the Department of Defense’s diversity and inclusion efforts, and the extent of white supremacy within the military. The Special Inspector General would report to Congress and share its findings and recommendations to address these longstanding and pervasive problems.
- Increase Representation of Minorities in the Armed Services: The Department of Defense and the military services would be required to implement recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to establish specific goals to increase recruiting, accessions, and promotion of people of color and women, and to report to Congress on its plan to achieve these goals and their progress.
- Remove all identifiable information before promotion boards: The military services would be required to redact all personally identifiable information, such as names and photographs, of servicemembers before promotion boards to eliminate the potential for conscious or unconscious bias.
- Create a violent extremism article in the UCMJ: A new, violent extremism article would be added to the Uniform Code of Military Justice to bring greater consequences to servicemembers who perpetrate, plan, threaten, or conspire to commit violent acts with intent to intimidate or coerce a person or class, or the intent to impact government action or policy.
- Track white supremacist and violent extremist activity: Additionally, the military services would be required to improve tracking of white supremacist and other extremist activity by servicemembers.