Some woke members of the military are publicly questioning their oaths of enlistment after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a recent court ruling.
One Army captain tweeted after the ruling came down, “I’m supposed to defend this country?” The tweet was later deleted.
An Army judge advocate general tweeted: “this may be dramatic but how I do reconcile with myself that I feel as though I serve a country that doesn’t view me as a full person, a country that doesn’t protect me back?”
Another U.S. Army captain tweeted: “Pack the fucking court.”
An Army medic with 4,940 followers on TikTok — whose bio read “My account absolutely reflects the [Department of Defense]” — posted a video in which she is shown first wearing her Army uniform and later civilian clothes, saying:
How am I supposed to swear to support and defend the Constitution and a country that treats its women like second-class citizens? How am I supposed to do that? How am I supposed to do that with pride? How am I supposed to do that with love and honor? How am I supposed to wake up every day and put on a frickin’ uniform that says United States Army when the United States doesn’t even give a rat’s ass about me. It gives more of a rat’s ass about the guns they’re allowed to buy that kill the children that I’m forced to give birth to think about that.
She tweeted the caption: “raw and unfiltered. I am heartbroken. I am enraged. I am terrified. #roevwade #scotusupdate #keepyourlawsoffmybody #deployment #armywomen #army #miltok”
She also tweeted that she was “embarrassed to put on my uniform.”
“This morning I was embarrassed to put on my uniform. For the first time. And then I was embarrassed all over again to feel the privilege of this being the first time that I ever felt that way, not only in my time in the army but also in my life.”
Ironically, the importance of oaths was a key focus of a DOD-wide “stand-down” on extremism ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin following the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, with some services even requiring members to reaffirm their oaths.
The Army said in a statement to Breitbart News that “politically charged” opinions on social media are permitted but run the risk of constituting banned political activity if they mention a candidate or political party or if they threaten good order and discipline in the workplace. The Army did not elaborate on what would threaten good order and discipline in the workplace.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, the Heritage Foundation’s director of its Center for National Defense, said that while there is leeway on what service members can say online as long as they are not criticizing the commander in chief, superior officers, or crossing the line into subordination and disrespect, it is not a good idea to weigh in on political matters, particularly as an officer or as a non-commissioned officer.
“If you’re leading people and you’re out there very publicly with your political views, you run the risk of alienating people in your organization who have a different kind of view,” he said in an interview with Breitbart News on Thursday.
“When you’re in leadership, you’re kind of held to a higher standard, you’re trying to command respect and loyalty of everybody underneath you. And so, coming out with something which is liable to turn off or cause people you lead to question you, it is not probably a good leadership technique,” he added.
The defense secretary himself waded into the politically charged topic, vowing to provide troops with access to abortions.
Austin released a statement that said, “Nothing is more important to me or to this Department than the health and well-being of our Service members, the civilian workforce and DOD families. I am committed to taking care of our people and ensuring the readiness and resilience of our Force. The Department is examining this decision closely and evaluating our policies to ensure we continue to provide seamless access to reproductive health care as permitted by federal law.”
His statement inspired jubilation from some leftist groups, which claimed that the Pentagon would defy or ignore the Supreme Court decision.
The socialist Occupy Democrats tweeted: “BREAKING NEWS: President Biden’s Pentagon defies the extremist Supreme Court, announces that it will not recognize any anti-abortion laws enacted by the states as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision. RT IF YOU SUPPORT THE PENTAGON’S DECISION.”
BREAKING NEWS: President Biden’s Pentagon defies the extremist Supreme Court, announces that it will not recognize any anti-abortion laws enacted by states as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision. RT IF YOU SUPPORT THE PENTAGON’S DECISION!
— Occupy Democrats (@OccupyDemocrats) June 26, 2022
His statement also prompted criticism from the right. RedStates’ Mike Miller wrote:
Clearly, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s allegiance — he all but said it with his disgraceful ‘Nothing is more important to me’ comment — is to the Biden White House and the Democrat Party, and the radical left, all of which are doing their damnedest to destroy America as we know it, not to the military strength and combat readiness of America’s Armed Forces.
Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw wrote, “Austin has decided to drag the office of the Secretary of Defense into the political mud pit in the middle of one of the most divisive issues of the day,” and called on him to resign.
Former top Trump Administration official Stephen Miller tweeted in response to Austin’s statement: “Pentagon continues its full-throated embrace of [woke] progressive ideology.”
DOD Secretary pledges the US Military’s support for abortion (eg “reproductive health”) as key to “readiness and resilience.” Pentagon continues its full-throated embrace of work progressive ideology. https://t.co/bWAYWXKeWo
— Stephen Miller (@StephenM) June 24, 2022
On Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros tried to clarify the DOD’s policy, sending out a memo that said the current federal law still applies.
Currently under 10 U.S.C. §1093, military medical facilities and funds available to the DOD may not be used to perform abortions, except where the life of the mother is in danger or in the case of rape or incest. DOD healthcare only covers abortion in those cases. Troops may seek abortions at non-military facilities in other cases, however. With the new ruling, they may have to travel out of state if the state where their base is located bans abortion.
Cisneros emphasized in his memo, however, that existing Department policy authorizes active duty service members to travel as necessary to receive abortion care “either as Government-funded, official travel for a covered abortion, or at the Service member’s own expense on regular leave for all other cases.”
“Access to emergency or convalescent leave remains unchanged for all Service members,” he added.
Spoehr said while the defense secretary is a political appointee and does not have to be apolitical, Austin’s statement could have been worded differently to avoid politics.
He said Austin was essentially affirming that the current law — which allows the DOD to provide abortions in extremely limited circumstances — would stand, but “he could have used different words” that would have proved less contentious.
“They could have said, ‘We will abide by…’ or something like that, and it would have gotten completely out this political discussion,” he said. “That would have been a safer thing to say, I think, rather than kind of dipping his toe in the political waters.”
Spoehr said the perception that the Biden Pentagon is wading into wokeness is hurting recruitment at a time of historic recruiting challenges.
For the first time in history, the Army announced earlier this year that it would reduce its size due to recruiting difficulties, and with only three months left to go in the fiscal year, the Army has only met 40% of its recruitment goal.
“The White House in particular is pushing a number of policies, which kind of suggest to Americans that [the military is] becoming woke, pushing policies which favor progressive policy over military readiness,” Spoehr said.
“At the same time you don’t hear much discussion about military readiness, but you hear about policies and whether it’s completely accurate or not, the average American gets that sense when they read these stories that the military is becoming politicized. And I think that’s not helpful for the military and particularly not helpful for the recruiting crisis,” he added.
“Military recruitment has been on a knife edge for the last few years. … The tight labor market right now makes things harder. And that this idea of a politicized military increasing military civilian divide, I think pushes it into the red zone,” he said.