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Pentagon watchdog replacing audit of bias with probe of Trump order banning diversity training

Pentagon watchdog replacing audit of bias with probe of Trump order banning diversity training
© Greg Nash

The Pentagon canceled an audit of bias in military ranks following President Trump's banning of diversity training programs, saying it would announce a replacement project focused on a probe of the president's executive order.

Trump signed an executive order in September extending the administration's ban on training involving race- and sex-based discrimination to include the military, federal contractors and grant recipients.

The now-canceled audit was announced Sept. 24 with an objective to determine whether military departments provide personnel with "diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity training" that aligns with the Department of Defense's (DOD) equal opportunity and inclusion goals.

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Assistant Inspector General for Audit Theresa Hull announced in a memorandum letter on Oct. 27 that the audit would be terminated, adding, "We are going to announce a new project that is focused on the Sept. 22 Executive Order 13950, 'Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.'"

Trump wrote in the order, "Uniformed Services should not teach our heroic men and women in uniform the lie that the country for which they are willing to die is fundamentally racist."

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report Female generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command MORE on Oct. 16 requested that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) perform a compliance review concerning the executive order, a move the DOD OIG concludes cancels its initial audit.

Trump's order disallows the DOD and military branches from teaching "any of the divisive concepts set forth ... in the order" such as stereotyping by race or sex as well as "race or sex scapegoating."

The "scapegoating" is described in the order as "assigning fault, blame or bias to a race or sex [and] ... encompassing any claim that consciously or unconsciously, by virtue of his or her race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or inherently inclined to oppress others," Military.com reported.

Trump's administration and the DOD have been at odds over the subject of military diversity training since mass protests against police brutality and racial bias erupted this summer, sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Pentagon officials came under fire for their handling of protests in Washington, D.C., as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyFemale generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Biden emphasizes diversity in first visit to Pentagon Pentagon: Extremist groups recruit from military MORE accompanied Trump to a photo op at a church across from the White House after police forcibly cleared the area of peaceful protesters.