Congressman Gonzales Condemns Partisan Comments Made by SOCOM Diversity and Inclusion Chief
I recently sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Lloyd Austin condemning comments made by U.S. Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) first ever Diversity and Inclusion Chief, Richard Torres-Estrada. Torres-Estrada made posts on social media comparing President Trump to Adolf Hitler as well as another post that portrayed police officers as racists.
As a veteran, I understand first-hand the skill, professionalism, and bravery that our active-duty men and women display on a daily basis. Politicizing our Department of Defense and the men and women who risk their lives for us daily is unfair and dangerous to our national security.
Full text of the letter can be read below. For a PDF version, please click here.
The Honorable Lloyd J. Austin
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington D.C. 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Austin:
As a 20-year Navy veteran and retired Master Chief Petty Officer, I am proud of the skill, professionalism, and bravery that our active-duty men and women display on a daily basis. Our military’s mission is to protect the United States’ national security by maximizing readiness and lethality to deter and defeat our enemies.
That is why I am disappointed in the recent reports regarding U.S. Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) first ever Diversity and Inclusion Chief, Richard Torres-Estrada. Mr. Torres-Estrada created a social media post that compared former President Trump to Adolf Hitler as well as another post that portrayed police officers as racists. His statement about a Commander-In-Chief is disgusting, dangerous, and has no place in the military. The fact that SOCOM either missed this public statement, or worse, chose to ignore it, is especially egregious. Further, Mr. Torres-Estrada’s Department of Defense (DOD) experience entails working at the Navy Exchange’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office and the Defense Commissary Agency. While those entities play an important role in supporting military families, this is hardly adequate experience for a position that will influence recruiting at SOCOM.
This is but one instance in a pattern of the Biden Administration forcing its progressive political activism on the military, distracting from its core mission. Instead of solely focusing on national security priorities like countering dangerous enemies such as China, Russia, or Iran, in its “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” the Biden Administration directed the DOD to align its actions with unrelated domestic progressive causes like “combatting voter suppression and institutional disenfranchisement…and confronting the distorting role of money in our politics,” as well as “building an equitable, clean, and resilient energy future.
It is the military’s duty to remain politically unbiased and independent while executing its mission. Politicizing and co-opting the United States’ fighting men and women into progressive politics is unacceptable and must stop. It is unfair to them and dangerous to our national security. The DOD unites individuals with different backgrounds and political views under its mission statement: Provide the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security. I urge you to prioritize this objective above all others. The military exists to fight and win, not advance social causes.
As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, I stand ready to work with you to address unmet needs and ensure that the warfighters have the resources they need for victory. However, if the DOD continues down its current misguided path, I am also prepared to work with my colleagues to conduct oversight and exercise further discretion over its funding.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Member of Congress