A Marine Corps program created to attract minority officers is being questioned about possible discrimination based on race or gender, the Daily Caller reported.
The "Diversity Aimed Officer Program" (DAOP) exposes enlisted Marines to senior leaders and the officer training environment near Washington, D.C., hoping it will persuade them to apply as officers.
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Rep. Mark Alford, R-Mo., allege that the program appears structured to prioritize female and nonwhite applicants, the Daily Caller reported. That could contradict the service's legal obligation to merit-based recruiting and promotions, according to a letter addressed to Dr. Michael Strobl, the Marine Corps human resources chief, dated Monday.
Strobl testified at the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on meritocracy in military accessions and selections on Sept. 20.
In written testimony, Strobl said the Marine Corps "takes pride in its commitment to recognizing and rewarding excellence among its ranks in a fair, transparent, and methodical way."
At the hearing, Republicans on the subcommittee raised concerns about each service's ability to retain merit-based standards in the face of pressure from the Biden administration and Department of Defense leadership. The letter stated that the DOD's Strategic Management Plan directs all services to increase the "promotion/retention of members of underrepresented populations from the previous year."
Banks and Alford wrote in the letter that it remains unclear how the Marine Corps or any of our services could develop a strategy to increase the number of promotions given to certain races and or sexes without factoring race or sex into their selection processes.
"The flier's language strongly suggests that the race and gender of applicants are important factors in the DAOP evaluation process, which would contradict the spirit of your testimony," the letter read.
Banks and Alford gave the Marine Corps a deadline of Oct. 15 to provide information on how many applicants came from underrepresented groups and how many the program accepted. They also asked for the criteria used to evaluate each applicant.
The DAOP was established in 2021 to provide Marines from so-called underrepresented groups with "an opportunity to visualize and pursue an officer career path, infusing the officer corps with different life perspectives and enhancing the Marine Corps' warfighting advantage," according to the website, the Daily Caller reported.
"The goal is to screen and select Marines from historically underrepresented populations," the program FAQ states. However, all Marine Corps reservists and Marines assigned to U.S. Southern Command will be considered for selection, according to the page.
The Department of Defense 2021 demographics report, the latest for which data is available, found the active duty officer corps is just 9.1% female, but that parallels ratios of the enlisted component. The reserve component has an even smaller proportion of female members, as about 8.5% of officers are female, the Daily Caller reported.
The Marine Corps active duty enlisted component is about 79.9% white, while white people make up 78.3% of the officer corps. The reserves were also 79.7% white among enlisted and 78.6% white among officers.
The Marine Corps has the lowest percentage of racial minority members, according to the report, but because DAOP draws from the pool of currently serving Marines, it likely would not materially affect that statistic, the Daily Caller reported.
Peter Malbin, a Newsmax writer, covers news and politics. He has 30 years of news experience, including for the New York Times, New York Post and Newsweek.com.
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