A Special Operations Command official leading the organization’s diversity and inclusion programs has been reinstated following an investigation into social media posts disparaging former President Donald Trump, according to a SOCOM spokesman.
Richard Torres-Estrada came under fire almost immediately after being named to the job in March, after critics brought attention to a June 2020 Facebook post of a meme that compared Trump to Adolf Hitler.
“Mr. Torres-Estrada has resumed the duties of the Chief of Diversity & Inclusion for United States Special Operations Command after a USSOCOM commander-directed investigation into the circumstances surrounding his hiring concluded and found no violations of law or DoD regulation,” Ken McGraw told Military Times on Thursday.
So while his Facebook activity might have been in poor taste, it happened before he was on the job, and its nature doesn’t preclude him from serving in leadership at SOCOM.
“USSOCOM is confident in the hiring process and Mr. Torres-Estrada’s potential to fill this important position,” McGraw said.
SOCOM announced his selection the same week it unveiled a diversity and inclusion plan with a vision to not only recruit more women and people of color, but to retain them and support them with the goal of diversifying the special operations community’s leadership.
The command’s efforts are nested within a larger Defense Department effort to promote more equitable opportunities and treatment within the military, some of which have drawn the ire of conservative lawmakers and commentators, who argue that focusing on diversity takes away from readiness.
“Where we’ve done a great job in recruiting highly qualified and capable people, I think we need to do a bit better in terms of making sure we’re absolutely inclusive, and making sure … pathways are available for everybody that’s in the ranks to realize their full potential,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers June 10.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.