Wokeness in the military must be stopped now
By Bill Connor
In recent days, Americans were again faced with disturbing news of the continuation of “wokeness” being pushing on the military. The National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness (NIPMSR), an eight-person panel led by Special Forces Officer and Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL), published new and shocking poll numbers of views of active military members and defense civilians. A whopping 68 percent of those on active duty claimed to have witnessed (progressive) politicization within the military. Further, 65 percent of that group are somewhat or very concerned about this development. The poll found that trust in the military among active members decreased 80 percent due to the decision to allow unrestricted service by transgender individuals. Reduction of physical fitness standards to “even the playing field” caused 70 percent to lose trust, as did the same percentage due to a focus on climate change as a top national security threat.
Executive vice president of Heritage, Derrick Morgan, said of it: “The timing for the panel could not be more important given that fiscal year 2022 was the worst year for recruiting since the advent of the all-volunteer force, and 2023 is shaping up to be as bad or worse.” https://www.heritage.org/press/new-polling-data-suggests-active-duty-military-members-worry-about-the-politicization-the. Though previous polls showed most veterans were concerned about wokeness damaging the military, this poll proves the majority within the military are equally concerned. Wokeness is a cancer only getting worse and Congress must stop it now. Let me explain.
First, though we are seeing the dire polls now, progressive politicization started during the Obama administration. In 2015, the Obama Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus rejected an intensive Marine Corps study showing gender-integrated combat formations did not objectively perform as well as all-male units (and that women were twice as likely as men to suffer combat injuries). That study was completely disregarded, and all combat arms positions were almost immediately open to women. Ironically, though Obama’s secretary of defense committed to gender-neutral physical standards, those standards came under fire from the left because women scored substantially lower than men. The “one” standard idea was eventually thrown out. Also in 2015, Obama decided to allow transgender service in the military.
Biden surpassed Obama and ramped up wokeness. The incoming Trump administration halted transgender service after evidence showed transgender individuals attempt suicide and experience severe anxiety at nine times the rate of the general population. Regardless, President Biden immediately reversed course from Trump and signed an executive order opening military service to all transgender individuals. He also allowed transgender members time off from duty for sex-change surgery, and even guaranteed taxpayer coverage for everything associated with the sex changes. Retired Lt. General Thomas Spoehr wrote about the watering down of military physical fitness standards due to a wokeness agenda: “In recent years, fitness standards have been progressively watered down in pursuit of the woke goal of ‘leveling the playing field.’ The Army, for instance, recently lowered its minimum passing standards for pushups to an unimpressive total of ten and increased its minimum two-mile run time from 19 to 23 minutes. The new Space Force is considering doing away with periodic fitness testing altogether.” https://www.heritage.org/defense/commentary/the-rise-wokeness-the-military
This is all in addition to the previously well-publicized military “wokeness” stories: military units being forced to conduct a “stand down” for training about the alleged danger of right-wing extremism after Biden took office; critical race theory being taught even at hallowed places like West Point and the Air Force Academy; the various statements of senior military and civilian leaders supportive of radical social justice agendas and firing officers who criticize the agenda (like Biden chief of naval operations promoting Ibram X Kendi’s radical and controversial critical race theory themed book, How to be an Anti-Racist; and Chairman Milley’s comments defending teaching of CRT at West Point and his claim he wants to understand “white rage.” The anecdotal stories of wokeness in the military are ubiquitous.
Fox News Digital recently detailed the perception of wokeness from within: “(They are) sounding the alarm over what they call a culture putting “wokeness” before training and combat effectiveness. Those service members … are blaming that on culture for its recruiting challenges, which have risen to a level unseen since it was transitioned to an all-volunteer force. “The military is extremely woke” … “I do perceive the Army leadership as woke.” The service members … almost universally shared a similar sentiment, with many noting that senior members who speak out on the issue risk their careers or retirement pensions. “Merely questioning the goals or methods used to promote ‘equity and diversity’ is punished and that punishment is swift, harsh, and public,” one service member said.
As the administration and current senior leaders refuse to change, Congress must act. It has the duty of oversight and must hold senior military leaders accountable. New senior leaders must be forced to put the focus on warfighting and take it off wokeness. Wokeness has gone far enough and national security demands it must stop now.
Bill Connor is a 1990 Citadel graduate, 30-year Army infantry colonel (ret.) and combat veteran. He is a writer and attorney and lives in the Charleston area.