- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 24, 2016

President Obama has become one of the nation’s most successful commanders in chief when it comes to at least one battlefield: the liberal agenda.

In his final months in office, Mr. Obama is leaving a legacy of a more politically correct armed forces, with the top brass squarely behind him, save the Marine Corps.

Perhaps not since Harry S. Truman’s landmark 1948 order to racially integrate the military has a president unleashed his own collective social revolution on the Pentagon with such success. In the process, the building also has become one of the administration’s loudest voices on battling climate change, even as its ability to fight one major war on schedule is in doubt due to budget cuts.

The White House also has given the Defense Department a gun control mission. And the “white privilege” movement, in which speakers tell a negative history of the white race, sporadically has invaded some military units.

A recent snapshot of the U.S. Army: Its headquarters sent out a series of Twitter messages last week reminding soldiers to celebrate Earth Day, complete with a photo of a green-shaded globe. This was a few days after the Army announced it had selected a group of newly minted female officers to try out for armor and infantry jobs long closed to women until Mr. Obama interceded. The Army also said in budget documents that soldiers now have the right to “self-identify” who they are, an apparent reference to selecting a gender.

Militarywide, the summer should see scores of women trying out for direct land combat occupations, including the Green Berets and Navy SEALs. Overall, the administration wants a higher percentage of women in the 1.3 million-member active force.

The president’s salute to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) activists, who represent an estimated 65,000 personnel, is not stopping with 2011’s removal of the ban on openly serving homosexuals, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

There is at least one final step in Mr. Obama’s revolution: The Pentagon now is taking steps to remove restrictions on transgender people. The ban has been in place for decades based on medical reasons. One issue to be decided is bathroom and shower access.

Social conservatives are aghast, worried that the world’s finest military has become a sociological test tube.

“Instead of preparing for transgenderism and related social experiments, our troops should be concentrating on combat readiness,” said Elaine Donnelly, who directs the Center for Military Readiness. “The military is a resilient institution, but strong leadership in the next administration will be needed to restore its strength and morale.”

Retired Army Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, a commander in the Iraq War and occupation, said the military must keep up with changing mores.

“The U.S. military is a reflection of the society on whose behalf it serves. As that society changes, so must its military,” he said. “African Americans serving in the Civil War, integrated units, expanded roles of women — all have been part of the American military history, as will the current changes. Each change brings a period of adaptation. I expect that to be true of the most recent ones.”

‘Urgent and growing threat’

The Pentagon’s liberal makeover even extends to weapons systems.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus began naming warships after liberal civil rights and labor activists, and wants to ban occupational names that include gender. He and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter nixed a Marine Corps proposal, based on real-life studies, to keep the infantry all-male, in what is the only public pushback against the Obama social agenda.

“President Obama has not ‘won’ anything,” Ms. Donnelly said. “Social experiments that Obama imposed over the best professional advice of military leaders have weakened morale and combat readiness. Abundant Marine Corps research that the president ignored indicates that gender-mixed units will be slower, less strong and less effective in combat operations 69 percent of the time.”

Mr. Obama has elevated climate change to the top of his priorities list. He credited a climate summit in Paris as being a display of allied power against the Islamic State terrorist army that has committed widespread atrocities.

The president’s political appointees have injected climate change into every aspect of military operations, from testing weapons to field exercises to war planning.

The order came earlier this year in a directive from Mr. Carter’s office to all commanders. The directive also sets up a climate change bureaucracy.

Said the directive, which called for “resilience” against this enemy: “Incorporate climate change impacts into plans and operations and integrate DoD guidance and analysis in Combatant Command planning to address climate change-related risks and opportunities across the full range of military operations, including steady-state campaign planning and operations and contingency planning.”

A year earlier, the Pentagon called climate change an “urgent and growing threat.”

National security conservatives view the priority as a distraction, arguing that the Earth’s climate has been changing for billions of years and that parts of the U.S. used to be glaciers thousands of years ago.

“When we are strapped across the world to protect vital interests and we are asking warrior heroes to leave the ranks, now is not the time to squander our slim defense funds on Obama’s boondoggles,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and longtime critic of various Pentagon left-leaning policies. “Our enemies laugh at our stupidity, and our allies shake in wonderment [at] how America, the once-great nation, is collapsing into the toilet bowl of history.”

Another Obama priority is gun control. In a governmentwide executive order on the subject, he specifically tasked the Pentagon — likely the Army — to begin a research-and-development program on “smart gun” technologies. This includes configuring a gun with biometrics or a PIN number so only the owner can fire it.

Critics say the project is another distraction. The Army has spent a decade trying to find the right pistol and still has not made a decision, bringing derision from Senate Armed Services Chairman Committee John McCain, Arizona Republican.

New, special training

The Pentagon also has grown the bureaucracy designed to handle sexual assault complaints and has stepped up prosecutions.

The campaign is spurred by Internet surveys that show a much higher rate of sexual assault in the military than does a Justice Department face-to-face national poll of individuals in the same age groups.

The Washington Times told the story of an Air Force sergeant who faced 130 years in prison for making sexual advances at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. At trial the combat photographer in Iraq and Afghanistan was found not guilty of all sex charges. The defense portrayed him as a victim of a dysfunctional office setting.

Sexual assault is broadly defined conduct that can be rape but also can be unwanted touching or an attempt at sexual contact.

Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, obtained Army documents this year that showed that “white privilege” training was conducted in April 2015 at Fort Gordon, Georgia, for 400 soldiers.

A PowerPoint slide said, “Our society attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual.”

It further said, “Race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African Americans.”

Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the agenda for the LGBT community is not yet met at the Pentagon. One big item: Change the service records for thousands of gays given dishonorable discharges.

“We also must keep moving forward, continuing to ensure that all LGBT service members are treated equally and without fear of discrimination or hostility,” said Mr. Thorn, whose group represented gays targeted under the old ban. “This includes lifting the ban on open transgender service, expanding the countries that spouses may accompany their service member to, the inclusion of gender identity within the Military Equal Opportunity Program and working to see the first openly gay person to be secretary of the Army.”

That is a reference to Eric Fanning, whose nomination was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee. It faces a “hold” by Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, related to Mr. Obama’s plan to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Nearly five years after the repealing of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ we can firmly say that the sky has not fallen,” Mr. Thorn said. “Gay and lesbian service members have now been serving openly and honestly and for the vast majority without any issue.”

The Pentagon agrees.

“The repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ has had no impact on military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Gabrielle M. Hermes, a spokeswoman. “We attribute this success to our comprehensive pre-repeal training programs, combined with the discipline of our service members and continued close monitoring and enforcement of standards by our military leaders at all levels.”

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