Our military is in a dangerous decline and this is the reason why | Fox News
Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., reacts to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Milley saying there is nothing the U.S. can do to stop China’s nuclear program on ‘America Reports.’
The U.S. Armed Forces have one mission: to protect our nation from foreign enemies. Our troops are as committed to that mission as ever before. But according to a bracing new report, our warriors’ ability to do their job is being undermined by civilian leaders more interested in woke indoctrination and partisan politics than warfighting readiness.
“The Report of the National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness” is an urgent warning about creeping politicization at the Pentagon and its corrosive impact on America’s national defense. As the report details, the Biden administration’s whole-of-government embrace of woke politics is becoming a dangerous distraction for servicemen and women who signed up to protect and defend, not virtue-signal.
The top-line statistics compiled in the report are jarring.
Public confidence in the military is falling precipitously, and even military families – from which most recruits come – are less likely to recommend military life. (iStock)
Last year, the Army missed its recruiting goal by 25 percent. They expect this year to be even worse. The Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps began the new fiscal year in October 50 percent below their normal recruiting numbers. Public confidence in the military is falling precipitously, and even military families – from which most recruits come – are less likely to recommend military life.
What explains the decline? According to a November poll, the most common explanations included “military leadership becoming overly politicized” and “so-called ‘woke’ practices undermining military effectiveness.” Another survey found that 65 percent of active-duty servicemen and women are concerned about politicization, including the woke training programs and equity-minded reduced physical fitness standards.
Troop retention rates are falling, too, and for the same reasons. As the report notes, “the perception that non-warfighting missions are distracting senior military leadership may alienate experienced, skilled and knowledgeable warfighters, incentivizing their early departure[.]”
It’s no coincidence that the Heritage Foundation’s latest annual Index of U.S. Military Strength rated our Armed Forces preparedness “weak.”
Up and down the ranks, Team Biden’s DEI-focused initiatives are degrading the warrior ethos, “grounded in values such as courage, honor and self-sacrifice,” on which military morale, respect and success depend.
The Department of Defense touts its “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” agenda like a third-tier college, apparently unaware that the institution they lead is “by design, exclusionary to ensure its readiness.”
Politicized initiatives like DEI always spawn enormous bureaucracies that distract the rank-and-file from their real jobs. The military is not immune. A report on the Navy compiled for members of Congress observes that, today, “non-combat curricula consume Navy resources, clog inboxes, create administrative quagmires, and monopolize precious training time.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during the 19th International Institute for Strategic Studies, Asia’s annual defense and security forum, in Singapore, June 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Danial Hakim)
Biden’s DOD sometimes seems more interested in culture-war activism than combat training and lethality. The Pentagon now pays for abortion travel expenses, on-base pride celebrations, and drag queen story hours.
Their 2023 budget requested $34.2 million to conduct a witch hunt for “extremist” – which in Biden-world translates as “conservative” – political activities in the ranks. Even DOD’s own study showed less than .005 percent of the 2 million active military personnel were linked to extremist activity.
China, Russia, North Korea, Iran… there is no shortage of real threats to deal with, and real challenges are coming. Since the Biden Pentagon continues to focus on make-believe ones, Congress must step in to restore the military’s warrior ethos and warfighting readiness.
The “Report on Military Service and Readiness“ proposes several urgent reforms. DEI should be excised from the Department of Defense, and political initiatives redirected to combat readiness. Physical fitness standards should be designed to protect the American people, not to accommodate demographic quotas.
Military readiness does not just win wars – it deters them. With war raging across the Atlantic and a Cold War heating up across the Pacific, now is not the time to forget that, least of all because of juvenile political distractions.
The American people need patriots to step up, to meet our rivals, and defend our country and values. Those in uniform on bases around the world already have. Now those on Capitol Hill need to do their part.
Kevin Roberts is president of The Heritage Foundation.
Republican Michael Waltz represents Florida’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committee. He is also a Green Beret veteran of the war on terror in Afghanistan, a former White House counterterrorism policy adviser and author of the book “Warrior Diplomat: a Green Beret’s Battles from Washington to Afghanistan.”