The United States Air Force Academy recently circulated promotional information among its cadets for the Brooke Owens Fellowship, which specifically bans ‘cisgender men’ from applying.
The email sent on September 14, encourages cadets to apply to the program, which states: ‘If you are a cisgender woman, a transgender woman, non-binary, agender, bigender, two-spirit, demigender, genderfluid, genderqueer, or another form of gender minority, this program is for you.
‘If you are a cisgender man, this program isn’t for you…but we encourage you to check out our spinoff programs, the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship and the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program.’
A concerned Air Force cadet shared the email because, he told Fox News, ‘It’s a little worrying that we have more briefs about D&I than briefs about foreign adversaries, emerging technologies or current events across the world.’
The fellowship, which has existed since 2017, commemorates the late Owens – a pilot and space policy expert – who died at the age of 35 of breast cancer in 2016.
The program provides young people, who are not cisgender men, with paid internships and executive mentorship at top aviation and space exploration companies.
The email also arrived as it has become clear that the US Army is facing major recruitment issues.
In fact, this month, the Army revealed it was just 52% of the way to its recruitment goals for the fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
Deputy director of public affairs for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Brian McGovern, recently said, ‘The Army is facing its most challenging recruiting environment since the all-volunteer force’s inception in 1973.’
He said the Army expects to face a shortage of 12,000 to 15,000 recruits this year.
Members of the Brooke Owens fellowship program, which places women and other gender minorities at top tier space exploration companies in order to kickstart their careers in the field
The Brooke Owens fellowship logo, established in 2017 in memory of Brooke Owens, a pilot and space policy expert who died in 2016 of breast cancer
The US Air Force Academy, which is comprised of roughly 71% men and 29% women, came under fire recently for a diversity and inclusion presentation in which it instructed cadets to shy away from the usage of gendered language in everyday speech.
Cadets were encouraged to swap out the words ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ for ‘parent’ or ‘guardian.’ ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ were encouraged to be exchanged for ‘partner,’ and so on.
At the time, Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) – a Green Beret and veteran of the Afghan War – said that the school’s focus on ‘woke’ concepts of language justice is ‘absolutely destructive to morale, to unity, to everything that I know from a military, that by the way, integrated way before the rest of the country in 1948.’
As opposed to focusing on small-scale wording faux pas, he said ‘the Air Force should be worried about the macro aggressions against America that are happening all over the world.’
Air Force Academy cadets salute during the national anthem at Falcon Stadium for their graduation ceremony on May 25, 2022
Brooke Owens Fellows pose – candidates are selected for their talent, their experience to date, their commitment to service, and their creativity’
The academy, which is comprised of 71% male cadets, recently promoted the Owens Fellowship, which specifically bans cisgender men from applying
A spokesperson for the academy denied that the emphasis on diversity and inclusion is detracting from cadets’ ‘warfighting effectiveness.’
‘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,’ said the spokesperson.
The statement was followed up by a denial that the academy specifically prohibits the use of ‘mom and dad’ or other gender-specific terms.
‘The Air Force Academy does not prohibit the use of ‘mom and dad’ or other gender-specific terms. The recent briefing on diversity and inclusion is being taken out of context and misrepresented; the slide in question was not intended to stand alone,’ said Superintendent Lt. Gen. Rich Clark.
He added, ‘First and foremost, the briefing centered on respect for others and the warfighting imperative of leveraging diverse perspectives to solve our nation’s most difficult national security problems. Our strategic competitors are doing the opposite. Our American diversity is a strategic advantage and opens the door to creative solutions, providing a competitive edge in air, space and cyberspace.’
A screenshot of the ‘diversity and inclusion’ training for cadets at the US Air Force Academy
In 2021, the US Air Force Academy made headlines for announcing a Diversity and Inclusion Reading Room, specially designated with curated books and described in a release as a ‘treasure trove of big ideas and a safe space for open discussion.’
‘We need to foster an understanding about the challenges of diversity, racism and injustice, promote a wide-range of perspectives and be respectful of people we agree and disagree with,’ said Mark Jensen, president of the Academy’s faculty senate and a philosophy professor.
‘Our intention is to create an informal space for cadets and permanent party to broaden and deepen their exploration of the issues involved in diversity, inclusion and justice,’ said assistant English professor Daniel Couch.
Waltz said in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that once Republicans regain the House Majority, ‘we are going to cut it out of the U.S. military.’