'Advancing Gendered Security in a Complex World': Inside the Woke Symposium at the Naval War College

'Women, Peace, and Security' conference addresses how to cultivate 'allyship in defense and security sectors'

U.S. Navy Photo by Jaima Fogg (Wikimedia Commons)
May 15, 2024

Amid an escalating war in the Middle East, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and China's massive military buildup, America’s Naval War College hosted a two-day symposium to address "allyship and masculinity," as well as other priorities such as "gender inequality, climate change, and environmental security" in Iran.

The Naval War College’s 2024 10th annual "Women, Peace, and Security" symposium played out over two days earlier this month in Newport, Rhode Island, where the military school is based, and included panels examining "art, peace, and security," "gender optimization," and "feminine power at sea," according to a schedule for the event posted on social media. The confab was billed as a chance for military leaders and national security insiders from around the globe to study new methods for "advancing gendered security in a complex world" and focused on the "impact of allyship across multiple instruments of national power."

More than 150 attended the event in person, with another 300 from 20 different countries tuning in virtually to hear from "women, peace, and security subject matter experts" from the Pentagon, State Department, and Navy, according to online materials distributed by the war college. Around 500 students from the prestigious school—known as the U.S. Navy’s "Home of Thought"—also participated in the event, including attendees from "every U.S. military branch."

"Integrating the gender perspective into strategic plans and operations can be used to better understand hybrid threats, especially those that target civilian environments where adversaries may employ multifaceted strategies including disinformation, terrorism, and cyber violence, as well as economic and military tools," Rear Adm. Pete Garvin, the war college’s president, said in remarks kicking off the event. "Experience shows us that the gender lens is responsive to, and helps reduce, strategic and operational gaps in countering these challenges."

The event reflects a major pivot by the American military in recent years, particularly under the Biden administration, to address cultural priorities and issues that critics deem "woke" ideology. The focus on these issues—which include climate change, the integration of transsexuals, and inclusive language training—comes as the U.S. military faces a "once in a generation military recruitment crisis" that many experts attribute to its focus on progressive issues. The Naval War College’s latest symposium was held at a time when the Middle East is on the verge of a full blown war and America’s military struggles to address a range of security issues in Europe and the Asian Pacific region.

The Naval War College did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment on the symposium’s subject matter.

On the symposium’s first day, panel discussions included "gender integration in maritime security operations in the Peruvian Navy" and "enhancing feminine power at sea" for "Filipino female Coast Guard officers," according to the schedule.

On that same day, the Naval War College held a panel on "cultivating allyship in defense and security sectors." This event examined "allyship and masculinity," featuring a discussion about "how men can promote [women, peace, and security] in male-dominated environments."

During another workshop program, attendees could gain insight into "understanding the relationship between gender perspective and military performance."

Another panel focused on Iran—the globe’s foremost sponsor of terrorism and architect of numerous attacks on U.S. forces—touched on "gender inequality, climate change, and environmental security" in the Islamic Republic.

A session on the symposium’s second day examined "art, peace, and security," as well as "the power of museums."

The Naval War College, in a posting about the symposium on its website, said that "reinforcing women’s perspectives and participation" is viewed as "critical to global security and innovative advantage." Additionally, "information and ideas produced throughout the event" will be published later in a book that will be made available to "students and faculty" of the war college.

Rep. Michael Waltz (R., Fla.), a retired colonel in the U.S. Army's Special Forces and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Naval War College's latest programming is a sign the elite institute is "completely losing the narrative."

"I fully supported the Women, Peace and Security Act passed under President Trump in 2017," Waltz said. "But this is completely losing the narrative. Holding seminars at one of our War Colleges on ‘Advancing Feminine Power at Sea,’ ‘Allyship and Masculinity,’ ‘Iran: Gender Inequality, Climate Change, & Environmental Security,’ and ‘the power of social impact storytelling’? The Houthis are waging an actual naval war in the Red Sea and Beijing is nearing one in the South China Sea. Who decided these were the topics that are critical to mission readiness at this time?"

Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), also a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Naval War College "should stick to teaching sailors about fighting and winning wars."

"Americans who want to get lectured about critical theory can always enroll at Columbia," Banks said. "The Biden DoD’s obsession with identity politics is making our military weaker and our nation less secure."