On Tuesday, Fox News ran a story titled “Service members sound alarm against 'extremely woke' military.” It quoted several anonymous service members ripping the military’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
“I do perceive the Army leadership as woke, and probably the lower enlisted (they have been indoctrinated in school)," one service member told the outlet. "Equity diversity is another way to divide and control the masses. It does nothing for the warfighter.”
“I 100 percent believe the military is woke. I see daily minorities, overweight people and women not adhering to military standards," a service member said to Fox News. "Nobody corrects them due to the fear of being fired and labeled a racist or a sexist.”
“Troops themselves are largely treated as expendable and they don't even pretend otherwise,” another service member told Fox. “Spending 15+ years in the military during wartime with multiple deployments risking their lives only to be tossed out like garbage. Losing the retirement they have worked years to earn because they didn't want to take an experimental vaccine for an illness that was mild for fit and healthy people.”
Those comments matched complaints from conservative pundits and even some elected officials in the last couple of years. Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe had drawn fire recently for attempting to rebut such assertions from Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
But last week, in an interview with Defense One, the new commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command said that “woke-ism” is not the reason for recent recruiting shortfalls.
Maj. Gen. Johnny Davis, per Defense One, “has identified many factors keeping young Americans from joining the service, including basic knowledge about life in the military, but ‘woke-ism’ is not among them.”
“A lot of our young superstars who will lead our nation just don’t know about the Army,” Maj. Gen. Davis said in the interview. “They’re asking ‘Can I have a pet? Can I drive a car?’ I say, ‘Of course, you can.’”
Davis added that he has not seen data showing whether “new policies on racism, extremism, and gender are affecting the Army’s recruiting or retention numbers.”
In the summer of 2021, both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley were asked about that issue in Congressional testimony, and both denied it.
“We do not teach critical race theory, we don’t embrace critical race theory and I think that’s a spurious conversation,” Austin said in response to Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-FL) questions. “We are focused on extremist behaviors, and not ideology, not people’s thoughts, not people’s political orientation.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.