Words Still Matter

The Oath, Leadership, Trust, Love, Stakes, Mistakes, Diversity, and Inclusion

You seldom see these word used in the same sentence or context unless you happen to be sitting in a group of Veterans who have been called to lead or participate in a combat operation. While few are ever really called to do that, many are trained and ready if the call comes. All took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. Most believe that oath is for life. All of our government and Political leaders took the same oath but the commitment seems temporary depending on political bent. Leadership in the military sense is also seldom really understood unless you have been there and done that. Listen to the passion of the few veterans that have made their way to the Halls of Congress on preserving the Institution of the Military. Most believe it is under threat today. Why is that?

Former Secretary of the Navy and Viet Nam veteran Jim Webb once said, “the reality of large-scale war is that the military doesn’t fight wars, civilians fight wars…but they depend on the best military leadership our country can provide to win.”  American parents must believe that the leaders they trust their children’s lives to are the best the nation can provide. What are the most important criteria to the troops in the foxhole? Unity, trust, and genuine love for the teammates that will get you through the fight are the most common responses from those that have been called.

So…how are we doing these days? The stakes have never been higher than they are today that our nation will be challenged militarily in the near future. The need to focus on developing the next generation of warrior/leaders has never been tougher. The candidate pool for those critical leadership roles is not being raised as patriots unless they are part of a patriot family. One only has to watch the rebellion of parents against school boards to see the new awakening of the racist ideologies and revisionist history being indoctrinated into our school system. Mistakes, which could be attributed to the erosion of focus on the complexities of developing real leaders, are increasing with the debacle of the Afghanistan withdrawal, collisions at sea, and other recent examples in the news.

So what does all this have with Diversity and Inclusion? It is all a matter of balance. Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, recent National Security Advisor and West Point Distinguished Graduate said, “The U.S. military must continue to evolve toward an institution in which all Americans, regardless of the color of their skin, can fully belong and enjoy equal treatment, because nothing is more destructive to teams than racism or any form of prejudice.”

But today, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion movement is not balanced. When the word Equity was truly understood, it was quickly dropped from the movement. Equity in the eyes of the left means equal outcomes without regard to merit or character. That is a tactic of the ‘Words Matter’ mafia- when the public awareness of your language choices is really understood- change the words. Equal opportunity is an entirely different concept. Nowhere is this difference more important than in our military.

And General McMaster continues, “… civilian and military leaders must not allow reified postmodernist theories to erode the sacred trust between warriors or diminish the meritocracy and objective realities that are essential to preserving the warrior ethos as the foundation of combat effectiveness. Warriors should be judged by their integrity, trustworthiness, physical toughness, mental resilience, courage, selflessness, and humaneness.”

No one believes that Diversity and Inclusion are not important norms in our societal standards. But when they are applied as the only factor without consideration of consequences to life and death outcomes, it becomes a question of balance. The military is one of the only Institutions that has successfully blended diversity and meritocracy and should be recognized as an example to the rest of the nation, not become the victim of the next social engineering experiment.

To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King’s sermon on courage, delivered on March 8, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” 

Words matter, courageous Leaders matter more.

About the Author:

Capt. Tom Burbage is a Naval Academy graduate, former Navy Test pilot and industry leader. He is working with a group of concerned individuals to change the focus of our military and specifically our Service Academies.

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