Contrary to the Democrat-media complex's ongoing woke narrative, there are black Americans who are aghast at the woke cancel culture that is insidiously penetrating all of our institutions to our collective detriment. A retired Marine friend weighs in with his perspective on the perversion that is being perpetrated in the Dept of Defense. Here is what he has to say:
As the late great radio commentator, Rush Limbaugh, used to say, “The job of the military is to kill people and break things.” As one who admittedly did not serve, Rush held our military in the highest regard. This was Rush's simplified and sensible way of saying the military's focus should always be on warfighting. I could be wrong, but from where I sit today, that focus seems to be changing – and not for the better. Far left political issues such as Critical Race Theory, radical feminism, LGBTQ-ism, and countless other isms have made their way into the one great institution the American people could always count on to be apolitical.
I recently stopped into a local Mission Barbecue for some takeout. Mission BBQ is a restaurant chain that sprung up several years ago which honors our military and first responders: to include the way their restaurants are decorated with photos, posters and other memorabilia. While standing off to the side awaiting my order, I couldn't help but notice the US Army “Soldier's Creed” boldly posted on the wall behind me:
I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America, in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.
I must admit that even as a Marine, I find the words of this creed to be inspirational. Words that members of any military branch can live, train, fight and WIN by.
As my curiosity got the best of me, I researched this creed and found that this was a 2003 revision. So why did the Army change it in 2003? My initial thought was that Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom had something to do with it. The previous version read more like an oath of office than it did the creed of a professional warrior. This 2003 story from The Washington Post confirmed my suspicion, as the Army then sought to restore a “warrior ethos” into basic training:
The U.S. Army is upgrading basic training for officers and enlisted personnel to emphasize combat leadership skills and what officers at the Training and Doctrine Command here are calling the “warrior ethos.”
The moves come after Army leaders concluded that the increasingly high-tech force was becoming too specialized, with too many troops thinking of themselves in terms of their military specialties, not their mastery of marksmanship and other basic combat skills.
The WaPo story also gives me fodder for future interservice rivalries, as quoted Army officials cite the Marine Corps ethos of “Every Marine is a Rifleman” as having served the Corps well, to include those Marines in maintenance and support jobs, early in the fighting, whereas the lack of such an ethos for Army personnel in similar support jobs was detrimental. Without kicking my Army brethren any more than I need to, the point is that once engaged in a real shooting war, Army leaders realized the need to get back to basics. That the job of the Army and its soldiers is to “kill people and break things.” That mechanics, cooks, and admin clerks were ALL warriors, first and last.
During my 20 years of active duty in the Marine Corps, and several more years as a government civilian working for the Marine Corps, I had opportunities to work and train with members of all four branches of the military. In my own way, I respect all branches of the service for being the best in the world at what they do. Now retired and “out of the fight,” I've been watching from the sidelines with great wonder and concern as the leftward-leaning political and cultural mob continues to impact our warrior institutions.
I first noticed it during the Obama Administration as it pushed to end the policy of “Don't Ask Don't Tell,” an effective compromise led by General Colin Powell, who boldly rallied the Joint Chiefs to push back efforts by the Clinton Administration to force the military to accept open homosexuals. Two presidents later, much to my surprise (and disappointment), it would be a retired General Powell, suddenly woke in his retirement, who would side with Obama and publicly advocate to overturn it. Since that time, transgenders have been added to the list of behaviors deemed to be compatible, though the qualifications are somewhat vague.
While Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff back in the early 1990s, Gen Powell clearly articulated why homosexual behavior was incompatible with military service. I'm sure his position on transgenders would have been the same. Yet Powell, in retirement, supported Obama, and subsequently opposed Trump. I do not recall Powell articulating an argument that counters his original position. I guess when you're woke, no explanation is needed.
I also witnessed the Obama Defense Department demand that the services change the names of some of their occupational specialties to remove the word “man” from job titles. Had they nothing better to do? Obama's Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, led the way by directing the Navy and Marine Corps to review position titles and ensure they were “gender integrated.” As the DoD mandated the services to open all occupational specialties (including combat arms) to women, names like Infantryman, Artilleryman, Yeoman, Fireman, and the like were becoming politically incorrect. Even traditional titles like Airman, Seaman and Rifleman were under siege (see related articles here and here).
I'm all for giving women more opportunities to excel, but in the military it should all be done while considering the need to maintain or improve combat effectiveness. If it does neither, forcing the military into it to satisfy some small political group is wrongheaded, at best. The odd thing about these decisions is that none of them appeared to come from within the ranks. As anecdotal evidence, when I randomly asked 10 female Marines or sailors if they objected to the traditional names of any of those job titles, nine of 10 responded by saying, “What the…???”
Keep in mind, our military was still engaging the enemy in large numbers in the Middle East, as much of this social tinkering began to take place. There is no doubt in my military mind that such tinkering played a key role in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Unfortunately, by the time Trump became the Commander-in-Chief, Obama had already left behind a new generation of woke flag officers and civilian administrators to lead the Pentagon.
The political left actually introduced Critical Race Theory to the military during Trump's watch, but it would be Trump himself who ordered the Pentagon to knock it off. If you recall, this topic came up during the 2020 Fox News Presidential Debate moderated by Chris Wallace. Wallace challenged President Trump to explain himself for having the nerve to put a stop to it. Trump gave a brief and effective response:
“I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane, that it was a radical revolution in our military, in our schools, all over the place…They were teaching people to hate our country and I'm not gonna do that. We have to go back to the core values of this country.”
Unfortunately, our woke Pentagon leadership quietly, or in some cases openly, pushed back against Trump, or simply waited him out. Now that Trump is out of the way, President Biden is full speed to the left, along with “the guy who runs that outfit over there” (Biden's near comatose description of his own Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a black retired Army four-star general whose name Biden could not recall during a White House press event). The radical left is free to resume its social and cultural experiments on our military, knowing it's the job of the military to salute smartly and carry it out when directed by a woke commander-in-chief.
In the same event where Biden could not even recall the name of his Defense Secretary (imagine the media response if Trump had done that!), Biden also praised the Department for tailoring combat uniforms and body armor for women, as well as maternity flight suits. That's right, maternity flight suits. That comment raised a few eyebrows, as it implied that we would be sending pregnant pilots into combat. That would turn out not to be true, but that's what happens when the Commander in Chief blurts out such a comment without context.
The Air Force explained that maternity flight suits were needed to assist female pilots and crew personnel with uncomplicated pregnancies to maintain their flight qualifications while pregnant, i.e., not necessarily for serving in actual combat. Meanwhile, the Program Office for these maternity flight suits pointed out that the Air Force experiences approximately 400 pregnant airmen each year.
Nothing against pregnant women, as I myself was birthed by one, and it's a beautiful thing. I also applaud those women who do want to serve their country in the most physically demanding combat roles, although the chivalry in me finds it hard to stomach. Meanwhile, the analyst in me asks what is the cost? Do women serving in these roles at least maintain or even improve combat effectiveness? The sheer physicality required to serve in the infantry, the Rangers or Special Forces makes it hard for women to meet without lowering the physical standards. And while woman can certainly fly aircraft, what does it do to the combat effectiveness of the Air Force when the next real shooting war breaks out and 400 pilots and airmen are pregnant?
Core Values are being redefined. Duty, Honor and Commitment now seem to take a back seat to Inclusivity, White Guilt and Equity. One of Lloyd Austin's first acts as Defense Secretary was to direct the services to conduct a 60-day stand-down to confront “extremism” in their ranks.
During my 20 years of active service as a (black) officer in the Marine Corps, I confess to a few encounters with bigotry. In all honesty I could not claim it was widespread, but it was there. I also know the Corps took great strides to improve and maintain fairness, while also maintaining high standards. The first black Marines enlisted in 1942, and in 1945, Frederick Branch became our first black, commissioned officer. This put the Corps well behind the other services in terms of integration, but once given the opportunity, black Marines made great strides.
LtGen Frank Peterson would become the Corps's first black Flag Officer in 1979, and was still serving when I joined up in 1982. Since that time, the Marine Corps has promoted a total of 25 black officers into the Flag ranks, with more on the way. Considering the relatively small size of the Corps, the even smaller population of officers, then black officers even smaller, for 25 of them to earn stars on their shoulders is remarkable progress WITHOUT the Corps being pressured from the Woke Crowd. Each of those 25 black generals knows they EARNED what they achieved – and they are proud of it.
This widespread “extremism,” as defined by the Left, is something I never experienced. To this day, nearly 20 years after retiring, I still count many of my white former comrades as good friends, and I'm not alone.
So, what is this all this talk of extremism about? One of the reasons the Left cites is those dreaded “mostly violent” Trump supporters who “attacked our Democracy” on January 6th. The January 6th attack by unarmed, Trump-supporting, white male extremists was so deadly that the only person actually killed during the attack was an unarmed female Trump supporter.
Extremism certainly couldn't have anything to do with the countless BLM- and ANTIFA-led mobs who sacked police stations and federal buildings, and burned and looted neighborhoods and businesses, caused billions of dollars in damage, attacked Republicans on the streets of DC who were leaving the White House after a GOP Convention event and killing law enforcement personnel and innocent citizens around the country. Their actions continue to this day, but no sir, that is not extremism. That is “mostly peaceful protesting.” Therefore, there is no need for Secretary Austin to address leftwing extremism in our military ranks, right? In reality, the radical left is hell bent on forcing our warriors – and by extension the nation – to adopt the views of the very people who are clearly conducting a REAL assault on our Democracy and our institutions: the radical left.
This is painful to watch unless you are one of our nation's enemies. It should make you wonder what does any of this top-down wokeness have to do with warfighting? How can our leaders on one hand tell our warriors that their comrades and their country are not worth fighting for, then on the other hand send them into harm's way and expect them to fight as a team and defeat a determined enemy?
This brings me back to the Soldiers Creed. As the Army's leadership saw the need to change it back in 2003 to emphasize more of a “Warrior Ethos,” will current military leaders see the need to craft new creeds to give our warriors more of a “Woke Ethos”? For the sake of our Armed Forces and our nation, we free citizens need to work to ensure they do not.
The end (and I couldn't agree more with my pal!).