America's Military Leaders Swear 'Wokeness' Isn't Reason Why Recruitment Sucks

(AP Photo/Mike Knaak, File)

The U.S. Army’s recruitment goal is at a three-year-low — down by so many military recruits that the missing troops represent an entire division of soldiers. But members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff swear woke politics has nothing to do with it.


Some congressional representatives disagree, which is why an Armed Services Committee hearing is set for Thursday about the impact of Joe Biden’s Army’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs on America’s “readiness, lethality, and cohesion of the military forces.”

The Army’s recruiting travails are so dire, and “today’s young Americans appear to be less interested in enlisting in the Army than they’ve been at almost any point in the last 50 years,” when Nixon ended the draft and instituted an all-volunteer force following the Vietnam bug out.  The Army is bringing back the “Be All You Can Be” slogan re-tooled for the Gen Z audience.

Some of you will remember the old commercials.

Antipathy toward people with more conservative views has been underway for quite some time but was supercharged after Jan. 6, 2021, when it was assumed those who breached the Capitol Building were all Trump supporters and by extension conservatives. Some who went to see Trump’s speech that day were military veterans.

Conservatives had to go.

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Within weeks, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs head Gen. Mark Milley issued a directive that the Pentagon hold a one-day civilian stand-down “to discuss extremism in the ranks with their personnel” to “rid our ranks of racists and extremists.” To purge such extremist wrong-think, Austin double-timed DEI training in the ranks to extinguish it. One whistleblower told Congress that military diversity videos depicted America and white people as “inherently evil.”  It was assumed all were racists, facts to the contrary notwithstanding.


Pentagon spokesman John Kirby defended the divisive programs saying, “they are essential for recruiting the ‘right people’ in its duty to defend the nation.” The military is a meritocracy, but Kirby intimated that it’s chock full of horrible people. “We want you to be able to do it free of hate and fear and discrimination,” he pitched. Discrimination against white people and conservatives is okay, though.

Part of the effort to get the “right people” appears to be using taxpayer money to quash news the Department of Defense deemed “disinformation” to eliminate those bad influences. The DHS notoriously set up a disinformation program, and the State Department has recently been outed as giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to a British-based “Global Disinformation Index” that rates news outlets for their opinions.

These wrong-think programs are aimed at American citizens. You won’t be shocked to learn that the GDI takes a dim view of conservative thought, putting major conservative websites on its disinformation list. Buzzfeed and Huffington Post were acceptable, however.

The censorship effort is to shape the very political thoughts of those who will sign up for the military. PJ Media’s Catherine Salgado reports it starts in the military academies.

That concern over political correctness run amok is shared by Iraq War combat vet Rob Smith, whose group “Stop Woke” tracks the wokeness culture, which he claims doesn’t unite but divides troops. In case you’re at all unclear, that’s the exact opposite of what you need in an Army.


Defense One reports that both the Air Force and Marines Chiefs of Staff deny that wokeism is either ruining the ranks or costing recruits. Indeed, they claim that DEI-type “inclusion” is their strength.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown and Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger both commented on the issue in exclusive interviews with Defense One as part of the annual State of Defense series.

Brown said the Air Force is building a team for every service member—“no matter their background.”

Half of Americans believe “woke practices” are “undermining military effectiveness,” according to a recent survey, a belief shared by at least several Republican lawmakers. But the commandant of the Marine Corps says it’s not true, at least not among his troops.

“I don’t see it. I don’t hear it. They’re not talking about it. It’s not a factor for them at all,” Berger said during a panel discussion Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum. “I don’t see a conversation or an impact of woke-ism in the rank and file, at all.”

The Army’s marketing head, Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, says the recruitment issue has little to do with wokeness and much to do with relevance. The AP reported, “They ‘just don’t see the Army as something that’s relevant,’ Fink said. ‘They see us as revered, but not relevant, in their lives.’”

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But the timing seems a bit too relevant. Biden’s COVID-19 mandates, the unspeakably mindless and disastrous bug out from Afghanistan sound relevant. Those dumb ideas are informed by Biden’s own woke — and dumb — policies.


The military’s focus on DEI, which depends on Critical Race Theory, does little for esprit de corps and unit cohesion and nothing for the meritocracy the military has been known for. That’s a sea change likely to have the same disastrous results for the military as it has for education and banking.

The Army might want to retool the “Be All You Can Be” ads to more accurately reflect the new woke military zeitgeist. What new slogan should they adopt?

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