Defense secretary knocks Cruz: Military will ‘never be too soft’

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hit back at criticism from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and other conservatives who argued that recent U.S. Army recruiting ad campaigns were portraying the military as “too soft.” 

Austin, a retired Army four-star general, told CNN in a Memorial Day interview that while “our adversaries” like Russia and China “would like to capitalize on talking points like that,” he is focused on protecting and defending the country. 

“It is not too soft,” he said of the U.S. military. “It will never be too soft.” 

“I will not lose one minute of sleep about what the Chinese leadership is saying or what Vladimir Putin is saying,” Austin added. “What I will focus on, and what I am focused on, is the defense of this nation and making sure that we have what’s needed to be successful.” 

The ad campaign launched earlier this month, titled “The Calling,” features animated portrayals of the stories of five U.S. soldiers in an effort to appeal to Gen Z Americans and improve diversity and inclusion efforts among the military’s ranks. 

The Army said in a press release earlier this month that with the ads, it “chose to deviate from the traditional Army look and feel to give priority to the stories themselves.” 

However, some argued that the videos did not portray a strong or tough image of the U.S. military, with Cruz earlier this month sharing a video showing part of a Russian military recruiting ad before then showing one of the U.S. Army’s animated videos. 

The Russian ad contained footage of soldiers dressing in uniform and participating in combat with intense music playing in the background, while the U.S. ad was an animation telling the life story of Cpl. Emma Malonelord, who says she was “raised by two moms” and “marched for equality” before joining the Army as “a way to prove my inner strength.”

In response, Cruz tweeted, “Holy crap. Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea….” 

Cruz in a follow-up tweet responded to “lefty blue checkmarks losing their minds over this tweet, dishonestly claiming that I’m ‘attacking the military.’ ”

“Uh, no. We have the greatest military on earth, but Dem politicians & woke media are trying to turn them into pansies,” he added. “The new Dem videos are terrible.”

Cruz’s comments drew backlash from veterans groups and former service members, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel who lost her legs in combat in 2004. 

The Illinois senator tweeted in response to Cruz, “Holy crap. Perhaps a U.S. Senator shouldn’t suggest that the *Russian* military is better than the American military that protected him from an insurrection he helped foment?”

VoteVets, a liberal political group that advocates for veterans running for office, said in a tweet at the time, “Ted Cruz attacks a US Army soldier for telling her story, says he prefers Russians.” 

“Because Ted Cruz is a sedition-loving traitor,” the group added.

Tags ad campaign American military CNN Defense Secretary gen z Lloyd Austin recruiting Tammy Duckworth Ted Cruz Twitter U.S. Army Vladimir Putin

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