In a slideshow titled, "Diversity & Inclusion: What it is, why we care, & what we can do," obtained by Fox News, the school tells its Air Force cadets to use "person-centered" and gender-neutral language when describing people.
"Person-centered" language tells cadets to format their speech centering around the individual, for example, "transgender people/service members" instead of "transgenders," or "people with disabilities," instead of "the disabled."
When addressing a person, the training tells cadets "when in doubt" of what a person calls themselves, to "ask" the person.
The training also tells cadets to use gender-neutral words to address a group or person, like "y’all/team/squaddies/everyone/folks," instead of "you guys," or "partner" instead of boyfriend or girlfriend.
"Some families are headed by single parents, grandparents, foster parents, two moms, two dads, etc.: consider ‘parent or caregiver’ instead of ‘mom and dad,'" the presentation states. "Use words that include all genders: ‘Folks’ or ‘Y’all’ instead of ‘guys’; ‘partner’ vs. ‘boyfriend or girlfriend.’"
"Not ‘Colorblind’ or ‘I don’t see color,’ but Color Conscious," it adds. "We see Color/Patterns and value people for their uniqueness."
The training also tells cadets not to make "jokes at subordinates' expense," or use the "N," "R," or "F" words or the word "terrorist."
"Most importantly: model humility when you get it wrong," the training adds.
This diversity and inclusion training also instructs cadets to form small groups and write down as many "G-Animals," or animals starting with the letter "G," that they can think of in one minute.
"What does this activity show us about the power of combining our diverse perspectives?" the activity asks. "If this were an operational USAF/USSF [United States Space Force] challenge (think COA [course of action] development) what risks might be present if we did not fully leverage the diversity of our group?"
In another slide, the presentation claimed that diversity and inclusion training is a critical factor in "developing warfighters" to be "prepared to lead the USAF/USSF with character."
"How can we Lift Others (motivate our teams) if we don’t know our people?" it asks. "How can we Elevate Performance if we don’t include people during planning and execution? "
"Today we are preparing to face challenges that may not exist today," the training says. "For example, Information Warfare only became a career field 7 years ago, and we stood up the Space Force in 2019. This makes our need to innovate critical. Thus, our leaders have deemed D&I a warfighting imperative."
Cadets were told at the beginning of the training that "what’s said here, stays in the room (let’s have each other’s backs)," with the cadets being told not to "share people’s stories with their name/identifiers."
Cadets were also told to answer prompts that include, "What I think about me in terms of who I am," "What others think about me," "What might be misunderstood about me" and "How squad/classmates can help me feel valued."
At the end of the training, cadets were told about additional resources regarding diversity and inclusion at the Colorado Schoo, which includes a "D&I Reading Room," "Affinity Groups," and "D&I Cadet Positions."
The academy’s website states that affinity groups help the cadets "gather around a shared affinity or bond" and can be "identity-based," "interest/career-based" or "cadet experience-based."
In a statement to Fox News, an Air Force Academy spokesperson said that the training was held to help cadets with "warfighting effectiveness."
"As part of the Diversity & Inclusion Cadet Leadership Program, this conversation was developed by cadet leaders and USAFA staff to introduce all cadets to Department of the Air Force definitions of diversity and inclusion, as well as how these concepts enhance our warfighting effectiveness," the spokesperson said. "USAFA develops leaders of character that can lead diverse teams of Airmen and Guardians inclusively, to enhance innovation and win future conflict.
"It is the diversity of Airmen and Guardians coming from all corners of our nation who perform the Department of the Air Force’s hundreds of critical mission sets that make us the best, most innovative Air and Space Forces the world has ever known," the spokesperson continued.
The spokesperson added that the exercise was intended to "highlight diversity of thought and the benefits of including multiple perspectives," and clarified that "there is one chain of command in the military," and that "our cadet squadrons have cadets who serve as advisors to leadership in several specific areas, such as Character, Honor and Diversity."
Rep. Mike Waltz, a Green Beret and Afghan War veteran, told Fox News that "it's been a tradition in the military to get letters from mom and dad or your boyfriend and girlfriend for as long as there's been a military."
"Now we're instructing every cadet entering the Air Force to not say, mom and dad, to not say boyfriend or girlfriend, and this kind of drive towards gender neutrality," he said. "I think the Air Force should be worried about the macro aggressions against America that are happening all over the world."
"I'm worried about the macro aggressions," he said. "Everything, when it comes to training, is an opportunity cost. Every hour, every day you're spending training on this stuff, you're not training on all the other things we need that I would argue would be a higher priority to fight and win wars."
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