The Pentagon, in the three weeks that Joe Biden has been president, has turned the department’s attention from outside threats towards potential threats from inside the military.
Former President Donald Trump’s first military priorities were to rebuild the military, defeat the Islamic State, and focus on the threat from China. For this, he chose retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis as his first defense secretary. Trump’s first military-related executive orders were to rebuild the armed forces and to establish new vetting measures to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the U.S. — which critics panned as a “Muslim ban.”
President Joe Biden, in contrast, while continuing the focus on China, has taken a number of actions to promote social justice inside the Pentagon. His first military-related executive order was to overturn Trump’s transgender policy. Biden chose retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary, the first African American to serve in that position. Austin vowed during his confirmation hearing to rid the military of racists and extremists, directed military leaders to assess sexual assault prevention efforts, and has ordered a department-wide stand-down for commanders to address extremism with troops.
Biden, on his first visit to the Pentagon as president last week, spoke at length about upholding diversity in the military.