Army chief to meet staff upset over anti-diversity essay


The army chief will meet with defense force personnel after internal fury over the army’s publication of an essay claiming diversity was “corrosive to society”.

The essay, titled Can the military afford to wake up, make some benign social progress or threaten national security, won a military writing competition in the “private writing” category.

It was posted on an army website on July 1, before being withdrawn after a backlash from the ranks of the Defense Forces.

Women and rainbow members of the Defense Forces were among those who expressed their anger at the choice of the winner, calling the Defense Forces “hypocrites” for praising Operation Respect and its plans to win. army gender neutral while amplifying harmful opposing views.

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Army chief Maj. Gen. John Boswell issued a “wholehearted apology” for the essay’s publication on Wednesday, saying the military did not support its content. He had named it the winner because it was the best-written entry of two in that category, he said, but that decision was a mistake.

“I will always listen to the opinions of others, especially those of our soldiers. And I think it’s important that we seek to understand where other points of view exist, ”he wrote, in a post at the link where the post was deleted.

“In this particular case, however, it was made clear to me that the publication of this essay was seen as undermining both the inclusive culture we seek and the work that is being done at all levels to effect that change – a work that is incredibly important, not just to me, but to our organization.

The military has made strides towards a more inclusive culture in recent years.

NZDF / Supplied

The military has made strides towards a more inclusive culture in recent years.

Boswell planned to deal with a number of staff on Wednesday who wanted to voice concerns about the trial’s publication, with a new meeting on Monday.

Defense Minister Peeni Henare said he was “made aware” of the essay contest on Tuesday and explained his position soon after.

“I spoke to the Chief of Defense Force reiterating my expectations of the New Zealand Defense Force – that our values ​​are inclusiveness and diversity,” said Henare.

The incident comes as the military is concerned about the presence of staff members with extremist views.

The essay, written by an author identified only as “N Dell,” argues that the military should try to become more exclusive rather than more diverse.

Dell writes that there may be a backlash “given to authors of similar documents in the current socio-political climate”, but invokes an army slogan containing the words “courage and integrity” in doing so.

“I will argue that the New Zealand military cannot reconcile a more diverse and inclusive workforce with the maintenance of a warrior ethic and culture of war or, at least, it should not try. “, he wrote.

“In addition, it should redirect as little energy as possible towards creating a culture that is more ‘inclusive’ of how this type of language is understood in today’s politically charged language.

“On the contrary, I would argue that the military should instead strive to become more exclusive. “

Efforts to make the military more diverse and inclusive have come at the expense of combat readiness, and the military should stick to “fighting real wars,” he said.

“Every man-hour spent on ‘cultural awareness training’ or similar programs is a man-hour that is not spent on combat training or monitoring our enemies.”

He also claims that Maori are overrepresented in the military, which he argues, citing a Google search, and opposes attempts to “engineer” diversity.

“The trend over the past five to six years to focus more and more on race, gender and sexual orientation looks like a throwback to a pre-social era where these arbitrary characteristics of a person received a lot. more weight than they deserve. “

Former Army officer Dr Ellen Nelson, who wrote her doctorate on inclusion and diversity in the military, said there was an overwhelming amount of research showing the benefits of diversity for the culture and performance of the army.

Another essay, which won the NCO category, argues that increasing diversity and inclusion is in the spirit of upholding the war ethic and culture of the strength.

The article, by “Ms E Campbell”, cites various sources, including a book by retired US General Stanley McChrystal. “The modern New Zealand soldier is diverse and inclusive, and a stronger warrior for him.”


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