Republican lawmakers concerned about left-wing bias seeping into military training are eyeing a typically bipartisan and noncontroversial bill as a vehicle to halt it.
The annual National Defense Authorization Act could include amendments by GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees the bill, to tamp down what they call "woke" political bias within the Department of Defense.
"My Republican colleagues and I hear regularly from active duty and retired service members that even holding conservative values is now enough to endanger a service member's military career," said Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.
"I believe that this is an issue that must be addressed in this year's NDAA and look forward to working with my Republican colleagues on the committee and any free-speech-minded Democrats interested in joining our cause," Rogers said.
The panel has yet to announce when it will begin considering amendments to the NDAA. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and both chambers are hopeful about finishing it by the start of the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
Rogers's statement comes amid news that the Pentagon plans to scrutinize domestic extremism within its own ranks by surveilling service members' social media content, according to internal Department of Defense documents first obtained by the Intercept.
Additionally, Space Force Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, a squadron commander at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, was recently disciplined for claiming that the Pentagon sent out a video to U.S. military personnel accusing the United States and white people of being "evil."
The ousted commander alleged that the videos "taught that the country was evil, that it was founded in 1619 and not 1776, and that whites are inherently evil."
Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed their concern over the Lohmeier incident as well.
"I still got to get more details, but we do have freedom of speech in this country. So, we've got to, we've got to allow people to express their opinions," Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, told the Washington Examiner.
Both instances happened in the wake of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's February order of a military-wide effort examining domestic extremism in the military after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Bishop Garrison, a senior adviser to Austin, is expected to spearhead an extremism committee to construct the social surveillance pilot program that will "continuously" monitor military personnel for "concerning behaviors."
In September 2020, then-President Donald Trump eliminated such training that included critical race theory and "white privilege" within the federal government through an executive order.
The Trump executive order stated: "The Federal Government is, and must always be, committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals before the law. But training like that discussed above perpetuates racial stereotypes and division and can use subtle coercive pressure to ensure conformity of viewpoint."
However, on President Joe Biden's first day in office, he signed an executive order that revoked Trump's order, stating, "Our diversity is one of our country's greatest strengths."
Original Location: House Republicans aim to stamp out 'woke' military training