National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness Releases Final Report Recommending Steps to Combat Politicization

National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness Releases Final Report Recommending Steps to Combat Politicization

Mar 30, 2023 7 min read

WASHINGTON—The National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness released its final report Thursday, analyzing politicization of the U.S. military and providing recommendations to restore the military’s focus on providing security.  

In response to all-time low recruitment in 2022, The Heritage Foundation commissioned the National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness to examine what, if any, impact the progressive social and environmental agenda has had on U.S. military readiness.  

Poor recruiting success and a drop in Americans’ confidence in the U.S. military continue to threaten our military’s abilities. Polling data commissioned by the panel further indicated that 7 in 10 active-duty military members surveyed witnessed politicization in the military. Most respondents were both concerned about growing politicization and likely to let it impact their decision to encourage their children to join.  

Recommendations include:  

  • Eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) from the Department of Defense. 

  • Redirect politicized efforts to combat extremism towards improving readiness. 

  • Establish DOD and service standards based on readiness. 

  • Prioritize security and defense over combatting climate change. 

U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee and a combat-decorated Green Beret, is the chairman of the panel. He made the following statement about the final report: 

“Whether it’s mandating politicized DEI initiatives or focusing on ‘eco-friendly’ strategies that compromise lethality, our military faces a readiness crisis.”  

“It’s critical we implement the recommendations of this panel to address our recruiting crisis, reinstate meritocracy to our ranks, and refocus our efforts on warfighting. I’m thankful to The Heritage Foundation and panel members for coming together to identify solutions for our military.”  

Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts responded to the panel’s efforts:  

“The world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place, and defense leaders need to remember that at its core the United States Armed Forces have one mission: to protect our nation from foreign enemies.  

"While the Biden administration pursues a politicized 'diversity, equity, and inclusion’ experiment, the National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness has focused on recommending actionable steps to solve our government-created military recruitment and readiness crises. Now is the time for patriots to step up and restore our military’s warrior ethos and readiness; not to be distracted by the political agenda of bureaucratic elites.” 

The National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness is composed of policymakers, veterans, and defense and policy experts, including: 

  • Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., chairman on the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee. 

  • Michael Berry, vice president of external affairs, director of military affairs and senior counsel for First Liberty Institute. He joined First Liberty in 2013 after serving for seven years on active duty as an attorney with the U.S. Marine Corps. 

  • Lt. Gen. Robert D. “Rod” Bishop, Jr., retired U.S. Air Force, chairman of the board at STARRS (Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services). 

  • Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, specializing in U.S. national defense policy with a focus on strategic deterrence. Heinrichs served in the U.S. House of Representatives as an adviser to former Rep. Trent Franks. 

  • Jeremy Hunt, a media fellow at Hudson Institute. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was later deployed to Afghanistan. Hunt was a recent candidate for the U.S. Congress. 

  • Earl Matthews, an American government official and attorney who held senior positions within the Department of the Army and at the White House. Matthews has been an Army Reserve officer for 23 years, including three years deployed to combat zones and is still serving as a colonel in the Army Reserve. 

  • Retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, U.S. Army, the 25th national security adviser and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. 

  • Morgan Ortagus, founder of Polaris National Security, a venture capital investor, former spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State from 2019 to 2021. She is also an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. 

The panel’s executive secretary, Thomas Spoehr, is director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense. Heritage publishes an annual Index of U.S. Military Strength, the only non-governmental assessment of military strength that is publicly available.