Government Agency

Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute

Type:

U.S. Federal Government Agency

The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute is a training agency under the United States Department of Defense that conducts training around ethnic diversity, racial sensitivity, and equal opportunity. The department was originally founded as the Defense Race Relations Institute in the 1970s as an effort to smoothen race relations within the military following the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The organization to date has trained over 50,000 Department of Defense employees and service members. [1]

The institute has been the subject of criticism from right-leaning groups surrounding its use of left-leaning constructs for its training programs, such as the teaching of “privilege.” [2]

Background

Following the Civil Rights Movement, the Department of Defense created an inter-service task force to study race relations in the armed services in 1970 and ultimately created the Defense Race Relations Institute in 1971. The organization took on its current name as the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in 1979. The organization initially held a seven-week training on race relations and since has grown to encompass training on a wide array of issues including sexism. The Institute opened a new campus at Patrick Air Force Base in January of 2004, where it is still located, which greatly expanded its capacity for training. [3]

In 2014, the institute made news when its Commandant, Army Col. Morris “Reese” Turner, was suspended and reassigned to other duties pending an investigation of inappropriate behavior. Sources told Military Times that the accusations were regarding inappropriate touching, which was notable given the role of the institute in overseeing the sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention trainings administered by the Department of Defense. [4]

Criticism of Training Programs

In July 2020, the right-leaning government watchdog group Judicial Watch announced that it had obtained over 1,400 pages of training materials and 26 pages of budget records from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The records showed that the Institute’s operating budget between 2012 and 2017 totaled $19.66 million and that the Institute and the Department of Defense’s Workforce Recruitment Program now jointly make up a department called the Defense Management Operations Center, which was budgeted over $13 million for the 2020 fiscal year. [5]

One section of the training materials was titled “Power and Privilege” and instructed participants that several types of “privilege” exist including racial, socioeconomic, biological sex, sexual orientation, and religious privilege. [6]

The training materials received by Judicial Watch were criticized as promoting left-leaning talking points and further stoking racial and cultural tensions and stereotypes. It was also noted that while the documents warned against the use of stereotypes, they also included stereotypes in other sections including a section on Asian-Americans stating that “Self-control, discipline, competitiveness, and education are important elements in Japanese-American culture.” [7] Another section of the training documents discussed perceived racist behavior and claimed types of racism include “traditional,” “symbolic,” “modern,” and “aversive” types, including that Aversive racists “put high value on egalitarian beliefs.” [8]

References

  1. “History.” Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.defenseculture.mil/About-DEOMI/History/ ^
  2. “Judicial Watch Obtains Pentagon Anti-Bias Training Materials.” Judicial Watch. July 16, 2020. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-releases/pentagon-materials/ ^
  3. Calkins, Christopher. “Equal Opportunity Management Institute Opens New Campus.” US Department of Defense. January 14, 2020. Accessed August 5, 2020.  https://archive.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=27501 ^
  4. Tilghman, Andrew. “Head of DoD equal opportunity training suspended.” Military Times. December 16, 2014. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.militarytimes.com/2014/12/16/head-of-dod-equal-opportunity-training-suspended/ ^
  5. “Judicial Watch Obtains Pentagon Anti-Bias Training Materials.” Judicial Watch. July 16, 2020. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-releases/pentagon-materials/ ^
  6. “DEOMI Study Guide: Power and Privilege.” Judicial Watch. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Defense-Equal-Opp-Mgt-budget-pg-133.pdf ^
  7. “Judicial Watch Obtains Pentagon Anti-Bias Training Materials.” Judicial Watch. July 16, 2020. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-releases/pentagon-materials/ ^
  8. “Judicial Watch Obtains Pentagon Anti-Bias Training Materials.” Judicial Watch. July 16, 2020. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-releases/pentagon-materials/ ^
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