When I joined the US Army in 2011, the training I received — beginning with ROTC, then infantry officer school, followed by Airborne and Ranger schools — focused on preparing me and my fellow soldiers to prevail in battle. Only five months after Ranger school, I deployed to Afghanistan, where everything I learned would be tested.
Woven into this training was something even more important than tactics and weapons: We were inculcated in an old and honorable military culture defined by ideas like duty, courage, discipline and selflessness.
This is rarely the case today, more than a decade into a quiet revolution in the culture of the military initiated by the Obama administration and being pushed with new fervor by Team Biden. This revolution treats the military as yet another American institution whose traditions must be targeted in the name of “diversity, equity and inclusion.” And it is happening at a moment of growing peril from overseas.
Consider the score. Despite Ukrainians’ valiant resistance, Russia may emerge from the war with more territory and closer ties to Beijing. China’s arms build-up is relentless; last year, the Communist Chinese Navy surpassed our own as the world’s largest, and China is methodically wresting military, diplomatic and economic dominance in the Pacific away from the United States.
Iran is on the cusp of obtaining nuclear weapons; North Korea, already a nuclear power, performed an unprecedented 18 ballistic-missile tests over the last year. Our disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan laid bare the incompetence of our intelligence community and the limits of our resolve.
In the face of these problems, our military leaders act more like bureaucrats than commanders. None had the honor to resign after the fall of Kabul, a result of too many generals being promoted over the last 20 years for their political and administrative skills.
Much of the Pentagon functions as a federal jobs program, with its number of civilian employees the highest in history while the services have the lowest troop levels in decades. Weapons programs run billions over budget before being canceled. Our Navy pulls into port with ships that look like 10,000-ton rust buckets.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is distracting military leaders with a new, woke policy agenda that they appear far too eager to embrace. Today military officials talk so much about climate change, domestic extremism and systemic racism that you’d think our enemies are at home, not abroad. Green Berets are forced to sit through trainings about transgenderism.
Official military reading lists include the anti-American ravings of Ibram X. Kendi. Army recruitment ads seem aimed more at attracting social-justice warriors than actual warriors. The Navy is producing instructional videos on gender pronouns while its poorly maintained ships crash at sea.
Officers are led astray by our service academies, whose curricula are growing indistinguishable from that of woke Ivy League schools. Physical fitness standards have been lowered significantly for the sake of “inclusivity.” The chairman of the Joint Chiefs says he seeks to understand “white rage.” The Secretary of Defense released an official statement about the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling.
All of this has weakened training, lowered morale and created politicized incentives for promotion that could get soldiers killed in war. It has driven some of our best warriors out of the service in disgust. And it diminishes the fighting spirit, cohesiveness and reputation of America’s Armed Forces. I fear that is exactly the point.
It’s time to confront this problem. Veterans have given too much to allow the service to become another victim of the left’s culture war. We have lost limbs and carried unseen scars. We have buried friends and family members.
That’s why I joined with like-minded vets to launch Veterans on Duty, a new national membership organization. Our goal: To compel the military to get back to basics by exposing how the woke revolution in the services works and how policymakers can defeat it. And we’ll support candidates and elected officials who’ll take on those corroding our military.
Times are too dire and threats too serious to sit on the sidelines. The American people have a right to insist their military does what they pay it to do: protect our country from external attack — and nothing more.
Jason Church, a retired captain in the US Army and Purple Heart recipient, is chairman of Veterans on Duty, a 501(c)(4) dedicated to preserving the American military and the American way of life.