President Joe Biden's nominee for the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate "gender advisers" for combat troops are critical to the United States' success, a position some veterans say is nothing more than a left-wing initiative that distracts from the military's core duties.
The revelation came during a Dec. 8 exchange with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), who asked how Adm. Christopher Grady intends to implement "women, peace, and security" legislation within the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"The role of a gender adviser is a way to attack a very significant issue, and if confirmed, I look forward to leveraging those advisers who can make me think better and smarter about the issues that you raise," Grady said. "So I look forward to, if confirmed, understanding that ecosystem and helping advance that cause going forward again."
The Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 required the Department of Defense to require training in "security initiatives that specifically addresses the importance of meaningful participation by women" and to develop "effective strategies and best practices for ensuring meaningful participation by women."
Grady's answer drew outrage from veterans such as Jason Church, who earned a Purple Heart when serving in Afghanistan. Church told the Washington Free Beacon that "gender advisers" are nothing more than "liberal pet projects" to score points with Democratic lawmakers.
"When someone nominated to be the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says something like this, it tells me top brass is aligned with radical political elements in the country," he said. "You have people's lives on the line. These positions aren't about how to communicate with Afghan women, we have a diplomatic corps for that."
Military gender advisers occupy a nebulous role within the armed services. A 2016 paper in the Military Law Review traces the position back to a 2000 United Nations resolution that "recogni[zed] the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women" and called for more formal female-centric roles within militaries.
In the last decade, NATO and the U.S. military have made concerted efforts to expand the number of gender advisers in their ranks. The proliferation of gender advisers are part of a general cultural shift in the U.S. military. In May, a group of 30 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to "take action to fight back against the creeping left-wing extremism in the U.S. military."