Military needs warfighting not wokeism as its major commitment

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Would you be more confident in your surgeon if they had won a Diversity and Inclusion award in medical school? How about an aircraft carrier captain who was cited for their commitment to fighting climate change? 

Our military personnel have a sacred trust — officers and enlisted alike freely take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This oath implies obedience to the civilian chain of command who, ideally, understand that our military’s job is to defeat our enemies and who do all in their power to provide the personnel, resources, and training to prevail on the battlefield, if that becomes necessary.  


But what happens when the civilian leadership has other ideas — when preparing to win wars isn’t the paramount concern, but merely one of many competing concerns? 

Military needs warfighting not wokeism as its major commitment

FILE — Carlos Del Toro is Secretary of the Navy
(Stimson Center)

Carlos Del Toro, the Secretary of the Navy, issued his “Climate Action 2030” plan on May 24. In the plan’s forward, Secretary Del Toro writes that climate crisis is “existential” for the Navy. He then cites “record-setting heatwaves in the normally temperate Pacific Northwest” and “expansive fires and unprecedented droughts in the West.” 

Military needs warfighting not wokeism as its major commitment

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Navy on April 13, 2022, shows USS Abraham Lincoln, front, and other warships sail in formation during a U.S.-Japan bilateral exercise at the Sea of Japan. 
(U.S. Navy via AP)

In doing so, he fails to note facts that contradict his ideology. For instance, last summer’s hot spell in the Northwest was triggered by a naturally occurring La Niña pattern in the Pacific. Extended droughts? The West’s Mediterranean climate is prone to them, with paleoclimatologists documenting one dry spell that started in 850 AD and lasted 240 years. Fires? The result of dismally poor forest management practices that discourage both harvesting and preventive burns to reduce the fuel load.  

In his press release accompanying the climate plan, the secretary claimed that “Climate change is one of the most destabilizing forces of our time … (while) this strategy … empower(s) us to meaningfully reduce the threat of climate change.” 

The secretary’s assessment verges on the ridiculous in the face of China’s massive nuclear weapons and naval buildup — a true “existential” threat and a far more “destabilizing force” than the weather.  

There is a very practical and deadly follow-on effect from such nonsense — the men and women who serve us in uniform will be more likely to die or be injured in training and will be more likely to suffer grievously in their first engagements with an enemy. There are only so many training hours in a week and only so much budget to fund training, spare parts, ammunition, and procurement.  

Military needs warfighting not wokeism as its major commitment

Every hour that military leadership focuses on climate change — or other woke distractions — is an hour taken away forever from practicing to fight and win on the battlefield. Every time the military focuses on Pride Month, just as one example, that effort distracts from the mission. This year, the U.S. Marine Corps posted an image on Instagram of a helmet with a rainbow row of bullets as part of its support for LGBT Marines. And Ramstein Air Base in Germany had to cancel a planned event with a drag queen who was going to read a book to children. 

In the Navy’s case, it ditched a reading list featuring Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist.” That might help since the Navy needs to train its sailors not to run into seamounts or collide with other ships or to have the resources to maintain combat vessels. 

At the leadership level, when President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Secretary of the Navy Del Toro make reducing the “threat of climate change” a priority, then their officers will too. They must. If they don’t, they won’t get promoted. This will manifest itself in the Navy’s fitness reports and sister services’ equivalents. 


In one of my last officer evaluation reports in 24 years of service in the U.S. Army, there were 22 lines of text from my rater, the brigade executive officer, and my senior rater, the commander. Every line of comment related to my effectiveness as a combat officer; some read, “The ADC-M (Assistant Division Commander for Maneuver) of 2nd Infantry Division praised his technical and tactical abilities … singled out as one of the best S3’s in the Division … His tactical and operational skills allowed him to be a very successful brigade combat team operation officer.”  

Now, imagine a similar report today where “fighting climate change” competes with honing “technical and tactical abilities.” And then extrapolate that out year after year until those who best acted upon those climate priorities became admirals and generals, setting policy and guidance for those under their command.  


If a Republican is elected president in 2024, he or she will face a massive challenge. In addition to the vast majority of the permanent federal bureaucracy being in ideological opposition to the president’s goals, so too will be the senior officer corps, shaped by a dozen years of Obama-Biden. (That was only interrupted by four years of Trump, whose secretaries of Defense largely saw themselves as running interference for the institution they led against the White House.)  

Refocusing on the deadly seriousness of warfighting will take a sustained effort against an entrenched uniformed bureaucracy. It won’t be easy, as military leaders will engage their Beltway allies on Capitol Hill and in the media. But the payoff in a more professional, lethal, and motivated force will be more than worth the effort. 



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