Republicans press Milley over perceived progressive military agenda

Republicans press Milley over perceived progressive military agenda

Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee are pressing Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation Milley tests positive for COVID-19 MORE on the cost of military initiatives focused on issues like climate change and white nationalism within its ranks, questioning whether the issues are being prioritized over readying a lethal fighting force. 

In an Oct. 21 letter to Milley signed by 12 Republicans — obtained by The Hill and first reported on by Punchbowl News — they alleged that the Department of Defense was more worried about combating issues like critical race theory than training and recruiting forces.

“At each hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, we acknowledge that the world is a more dangerous place than ever in our lifetime and reaffirm our committee’s steadfast support for the 2018 National Defense Strategy,” committee ranking member Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeRepublicans say Mayorkas failed to deliver report on evacuated Afghans Pelosi faces pushback over stock trade defense Overnight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate MORE (R-Okla.) and 11 other senators wrote.

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“Yet today, efforts to recruit, train, and equip a ready and lethal force often appear to take a back seat to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) ‘Climate Adaptation Plan,’ ‘Countering Extremism Working Group,’ and discussions of critical race theory. DOD touts its ‘Climate Adaptation Plan,’ while a viable counterterrorism strategy in lieu of our presence in Afghanistan after a chaotic exit goes wanting,” they continued. 

The Republican senators also criticized a Pentagon initiative aimed at weeding out domestic extremists and white supremacists within the military ranks. Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia GOP lawmakers press administration on US weapons left behind in Afghanistan Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE said in a memo that a working group within the department would be established to review and update their definition of extremism and provide new screening for potential members of domestic extremist groups. 

“All this is taking place despite clear data that pegs the number of extremists in our military as miniscule,” the Republican senators wrote. "Several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have solicited feedback directly from service members about the working group and have also shared growing concern about the focus directed towards social issues and away from lethality.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden may get reprieve with gas price drop EPA proposes lowering past blending requirements for gasoline, rejecting waivers Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' MORE (Neb.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  Biden's court picks face fierce GOP opposition MORE (N.C.),  Rick Scott (Fla.), Mike RoundsMike RoundsThe Memo: Is Trump the GOP's future or in rearview mirror? Some in GOP begin testing party's lockstep loyalty to Trump Trump to make election claims center stage in Arizona MORE (S.D.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerBiden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation Senators to meet with Ukraine president to reaffirm US support MORE (Miss.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenate confirms Rahm Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan GOP resistance to Biden FCC nominee could endanger board's Democratic majority Man charged with threatening Alaska senators pleads not guilty MORE (Alaska),  Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  Will Putin sink Biden? MORE (Ark.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnSunday shows preview: Democrats' struggle for voting rights bill comes to a head CNN legal analyst knocks GOP senator over remark on Biden nominee Senate GOP introduces resolution to nix Biden health worker vaccine mandate MORE (Tenn.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstAlabama GOP gears up for fierce Senate primary clash Biden's court picks face fierce GOP opposition Lawmakers in both parties to launch new push on Violence Against Women Act MORE (Iowa) and Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation Senators to meet with Ukraine president to reaffirm US support MORE (N.D.).

It asks Milley to provide an analysis of costs related to the initiatives by Nov. 8. 

Defense officials, including Milley, have previously pushed back at assertions from Republicans that the military has tried to act "woke."

“I've read Mao Zedong. I've read Karl Marx. I've read Lenin," Miley said during a hearing in June. "That doesn't make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country from which we are here to defend?"

“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our noncommissioned officers, of being ‘woke’ or something else because we are studying some theories that are out there,” he added.

The Hill has reached out to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for comment.