Republicans press Milley over perceived progressive military agenda

Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee are pressing Gen. Mark Milley 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 Inhofe (R-Okla.) and 11 other senators wrote.

“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 Austin 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 Fischer (Neb.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Thom Tillis (N.C.),  Rick Scott (Fla.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska),  Tom Cotton (Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Kevin Cramer (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.

Tags Critical race theory Dan Sullivan Deb Fischer Joni Ernst Kevin Cramer Lloyd Austin Mark Milley Mark Milley Marsha Blackburn Mike Rounds Roger Wicker Senate Armed Services Committee Thom Tillis Tom Cotton

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