Military is the next front in the culture wars

Politics

(NewsNation) — As Republicans take control of the House, one item on their agenda is pushing back against the Pentagon for “woke” policies they say are harming the military.

A survey from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute found that 50 percent of respondents said “woke” policies decreased their confidence in the military.

The GOP has already succeeded in repealing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members, and some lawmakers have sponsored legislation that would allow those discharged for failing to get vaccinated to return at the same rank.

With control of the house, Republicans are expected to focus on social polices they say are harming military readiness, including what’s being taught at military academies, abortion and efforts root out extremists in the armed forces.

“If you can’t say that this will help us to defeat our adversaries to be more ready when war comes, then you shouldn’t do it. And that’s exactly what is happening right now. They’re wasting a lot of time that shouldn’t be used in preparing for war,” Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin told NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert on Morning in America.

The Pentagon has said diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives are necessary to attract recruits, especially when there is a shrinking pool of Americans who are eligible and interest in serving. A recruiting general for the Army told Defense One the biggest issues faced by recruiters isn’t progressive policies, it’s misconceptions about what life in the military is like.

Boykin specifically singled out education, saying new curricula at military academies undermine unity.

“The critical race theory is kind of fundamental to all the problems here. And you just think about it for a moment. It is racist by nature, when you take young servicemen and women into a room, and you divide them up into one group that is the oppressors and the other group that is the oppressed. What do you think you’re doing?” Boykin said.

During a budget hearing in Congress, some Republican lawmakers attacked West Point for a seminar called “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley defended the course, saying it was important for service members to be widely read and to be exposed to subject matter that may be controversial.

“I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” Milley said.

Republicans have also said the military shouldn’t be focused on efforts to root out extremists within the force. Boykin called it propaganda.

“There’s a very deliberate effort to convince people that we have a huge problem within our military and within the ranks of all the services that as far as I’m concerned, I never saw,” he said.

The Military Times reported surveys of active-duty troops found white supremacist and nationalist rhetoric wasn’t uncommon in the military. One survey found more than a third of service members reported seeing that kind of rhetoric in the workplace.

While the Pentagon has made rooting out extremism a priority, Boykin said the numbers are too small to constitute a major concern.

“You have individuals but that has to be dealt with by the chain of command,” he said.

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