Army Gen. Mark Milley pushed back on claims from Republicans that the military is “woke” and as a result not prepared to take on modern threats, saying he’s “not even sure what that word truly means.”
“What I see is a military that’s exceptionally strong. It’s powerful; it’s ready. In fact, our readiness rates, the way we measure readiness, is better now than they’ve been in years,” Milley said in a CNN interview Sunday.
Republican politicians and candidates have blasted the Pentagon for so-called woke policies, pointing to efforts to recruit a diverse group of military service members and be inclusive to transgender soldiers.
Those claims have also headlined efforts to reduce military spending.
“We’re going to cut money that’s being spent on wokeism; we’re going to cut legacy programs; we’re going to cut a lot of waste,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said earlier this year.
Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who announced he will retire at the end of this month, said the U.S. military is actually in better shape now than in years past.
“This is a military that’s dedicated to maintaining our readiness, our capabilities, our lethality. And the thing that we also need to focus on is the modernization for the future character of war that I see fundamentally changing,” Milley said.
“This military is a lot of things, but woke, it’s not. So I take exception to that. I think that people say those things for reasons that are their own reasons, but it’s not true. It’s not accurate,” he continued. “It’s not a broad-brush description of the U.S. military as it exists today.”
Presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) argued that the military is being ordered around by a civilian “political ideology” and is “being infected by the woke mind virus.”
“This is changing the character of the military, it’s changing the culture of our services, and it’s creating a situation in which great warriors have been driven away and recruiting is at an all time low,” he said on the campaign trail in July.
Those criticisms from Republicans have created “a real crisis” of confidence in military institutions, according to defense analysts. A poll conducted in June found that confidence in the military is at a 25-year low — at 60 percent.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.