Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the U.S. military has “no apologies whatsoever” for enacting policies focused on diversity and inclusion that some Republican critics argue “emasculate” the military.
Kirby made the comments during a Pentagon press briefing Wednesday, echoing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s rejection of the criticisms Monday. Republican critics have focused primarily on Biden’s decision to allow transgender people to serve in the military, as well as the tone of recent Pentagon ad campaigns. (RELATED: ANALYSIS: Watch These Chinese Military Ads, Then These American Military Ads. Which Country Wins Wars?)
“You know that some Republican lawmakers have been attacking various efforts on the diversity inclusion front in the military complaining about the stand out order earlier this spring,” New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer said. “Some have started a system on social media for active duty troops to file complaints about the so-called ‘woke’ media military. What is your observation or comment on that?”
“The Secretary has been very clear and fairly unapologetic about the fact that we want to get all the best talent that we can available from the American people,” Kirby responded. “If you need the standards and you’re qualified to be in the military and – and you’re willing to raise your hand and serve this country, we want you to be able to do and we want you to be able to do it free of hate and fear and discrimination.”
“We owe you that if you’re going to raise your right hand and volunteer to serve your country. That’s the very least we can do. And there’s no apologies for that. No apologies whatsoever for wanting to create that kind of a working environment. And it is a work in progress,” he finished.
Austin responded to the criticism in a Memorial Day interview.
“It is not too soft. It will never be too soft,” Austin said. “I think our adversaries would like to capitalize on talking points like that, you know, the Chinese and the Russians. I welcome them to do that, because what this department, what Lloyd Austin is focused on is the defense of our nation.”
“I will not lose one minute of sleep over what the Chinese leadership is saying or what Vladimir Putin is saying. What I will focus on, and what I am focused on, is the defense of this nation,” he added.