GOP Representatives Demand ‘Transparency’ over DoD ‘Wokeness’ Harming Army Recruitment

Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, salute durin
Luke Sharrett/Getty Images, File

Warning of a “major threat to democracy,” Republican Reps. Mike Waltz (R-FL) and Jim Banks (R-IN) are demanding “transparency” regarding the effects of the Department of Defense’s “wokeness” — which they blame for undermining the military’s apolitical character and harming recruitment, which is at a “historic” low.

In an alarming letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth sent on Wednesday, Chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness Mike Waltz of Florida and Chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel Jim Banks of Indiana expressed deep concern over the “historic recruitment crisis” the U.S. Army is currently facing while calling for the public release of vital recruiting and retaining survey data.

“Having spent my career as an Army officer and green beret, I am very concerned with the Army’s ability to recruit and retain our nation’s best and brightest for military service,” said Waltz, a colonel in the National Guard as well as a former White House and Pentagon policy adviser and the first Green Beret to be elected to Congress.

“Unfortunately, we continue to receive analysis of cherry-picked data that is not giving us the full picture of why the U.S. Army is seeing historically low recruitment and retention rates,” he added.


U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill with members of The American Legion on June 16, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Calling for “transparency” on the matter, as well as the public release of the Army’s “entire data set concerning military recruitment,” Waltz asserted it “should be the shared goal of Congress, our military leaders, and the Biden Administration to get to the bottom of this crisis so we can ensure our military is ready for any threat our nation faces.”

Rep. Banks blamed “wokeness” at the United States Department of Defense (DoD) for having “harmed recruitment, retention and morale, wasted service members’ time and taxpayer’s dollars, and undermined the apolitical character of the military which is a major threat to democracy and the American way of life.” 

“I’ll ensure the Military Personnel Subcommittee prioritizes rooting out wokeness,” he added. 

The letter notes the Army’s recent failure to meet its recruitment goal by a sizable margin while predicting the worst is yet to come.

“The U.S. Army is in the midst of a historic recruiting crisis,” it begins. “In FY22, the Army fell 15,000 soldiers, or 25 percent, short of its 60,000-person recruitment goal.”

“The Army predicts FY23 will be worse, estimating its end strength will have a further shortfall of 20,000 soldiers. In anticipation of another poor recruiting year, the Army asked for their end strength to be cut by 33,000 active-duty soldiers from FY22 to FY23,” the letter continues.

It then calls attention to the Army’s decline to publicly release full surveys on recruitment, as well as the discrepancy between statements made by Army officials and publicly available polling data on the matter, which stand “in stark contrast” with one another. 

The letter also highlights a November poll conducted by the Ronald Reagan Institute that found a sharp decline in the trust and confidence in the U.S. military due to an “overly politicized” military, as well as “so-called ‘woke’ practices undermining military effectiveness.”

Another poll cited found an overwhelming majority of active-duty military personnel expressed concern over “growing politicization” of the military, with “an overemphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; requirement for the military to pay for abortion related travel; [and] reduction of fitness standards to promote equity.” 

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 15: Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., arrives for the House Republicans leadership elections in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., arrives for the House Republicans’ leadership elections in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The letter concludes with a call for the Army to publicly release its entire data set in the “interest of transparency,” instead of “cherry-picking data to fit a narrative,” calling the issue “critical to our national security, and of great importance to the American people.”

The matter comes as the military continues to face criticism for pushing a “woke” agenda at the expense of focusing on protecting the country.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy announced it was granting sailors a “one-time reset” of past physical fitness assessment (PFA) failures in hopes of improving retention, while the Department of Defense (DOD) revealed taxpayer dollars would be used to pay for servicemembers’ abortion travel fees. 

In November, Rep. Waltz chaired a think-tank panel to combat wokeness in the military and address its recruiting crisis.

In June, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker released a memo outlining his efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the Navy.

The memo was intended to serve as a framework for ongoing DEI efforts in the Navy and directed the Chief Diversity Officer of the Navy, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) Cathy Kessmeier, to lead a Strategic Planning Team and develop an action plan to promote DEI.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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