Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: ‘Various Websites’ Add Fuel to Military Partisanship

Lloyd Austin
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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week pointed to “various websites” as a reason the military has become more partisan, after a survey showed that only 40 percent of Americans had great confidence in the U.S. military’s ability to act in a professional and nonpolitical manner.

“The military doesn’t exist in a vacuum and as you take a look at the landscape around the country, things have become a lot more partisan in recent years and if you look at what’s going on on various websites that really adds fuel to some of that partisanship,” he told Defense One recently.

He did not specify what websites he was referring to.

He added, “There are things within the military that you certainly would — internal issues that you want to make sure you focus on and be concerned about but there are also external drivers that can really cause politicization of the military.”

The survey by the Ronald Reagan Institute also showed a drop of 11 points in Americans who had great confidence in the U.S. military since February 2021, when President Joe Biden entered office.

Austin said about the politicization of the military, “I think that this is something that is important to us, this is something that we’ll continue to work on, again, it’s critical that the American people have confidence in its military, and it is a great military.”

 The survey, published this month, comes months after high-profile congressional hearings where military leaders defended learning about Critical Race Theory.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley in June defended CRT seminars at West Point, arguing that learning about CRT does not mean one believes in it, but then added that he wanted to understand “white rage” and tied it to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

And under grilling from members of Congress, the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday defended putting the book How to Be an Antiracist on his recommended reading list.

The Army also recently put out a high-profile series of “woke” recruiting advertisements featuring women, and racial and gender minorities. One advertisement that received a lot of attention was a female Army soldier who marched with lesbian mothers.

Conservative Fox News show host Tucker Carlson has also highlighted military reforms aimed at being more accommodating to women, and contrasted that China’s focus on building its Navy.

The Biden administration has pursued an effort to root out “extremists” from the military, without having a definition for what it means, which has unnerved conservatives who fear it is aimed at them. The administration has also mandated the COVID-19 vaccine, which has become highly-politicized.

Some on the left suggest the politicization happened under former President Donald Trump — when the National Guard was called to protect federal offices and monuments during the George Floyd protests during the summer of 2020, or because Milley had appeared in uniform with Trump in the aftermath of a near-siege on the White House, or because a number of veterans participated in January 6 protests.

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