U.S. Military Misfires over Independence Day Weekend
Agents across the U.S. military committed another series of unforced errors over Independence Day Weekend, making the service look embarrassingly weak and further fueling the ongoing recruitment woes.
The U.S. Navy’s largest fleet command tweeted out a “Happy Independence Day” on Tuesday in a tweet featuring silhouettes of a Russian warship and Russian fighters. After sustaining withering fire in the comments, the U.S. Pacific Fleet soon deleted and replaced the tweet, but not before Russian government-controlled propaganda outlet RT grabbed a screenshot and gleefully tweeted out the original.
Viewing the graphics side-by-side, the one featuring Russian equipment is clearly superior. It captures the planes and ship in their most imposing silhouette, while the soldier silhouettes evoke the essential martial qualities of duty, honor, valor and sacrifice. By contrast, the replacement tweet shows the front of an aircraft carrier and a surfaced submarine — neither craft in its most advantageous perspective — no planes, and no soldiers. Instead of carefully designing and preparing an evocative graphic, the weekend social media team clearly used the first image that came to hand and added an American flag in watermark. Two cheers for mediocrity!
While the incident was soon over, the damage had already been done. While no lives or weapons had been lost, the Pacific Fleet — and, by extension, at least the rest of the U.S. Navy — did suffer a heavy blow in prestige, morale, and prospects for recruitment. Current and potential future sailors are likely now asking themselves questions like, what kind of military has so little pride in its own warships and planes that it tweets out those of a rival power and fails to notice the difference? What kind of military has such low standards that such an error can be followed by such a lame recovery? If a military cares so little about multi-billion-dollar warfighting machines, how will it care for a green recruit in bootcamp?
The Department of Defense (DOD) answered at least a similar question — how it will care for servicemembers — over the weekend: by giving them all the gender transition care they need. For Independence Day Weekend, DOD highlighted Major Rachel Jones, tweeting Sunday that he “found solace after coming out as a transgender female. Her [sic] journey from battling depression & suicidal thoughts to embracing authenticity inspires us all.” The tweet linked to a June 22 article published by a public affairs spokesperson for the U.S. Army Sustainment Command,” which claimed in the headline, “living authentically saves soldier’s life.” The accompanying photo shows Jones sporting army camouflage, male-pattern baldness, and Pride flags.
Jones “struggled with depression and suicidal ideation for most of her life,” said the article. “Today, she is living her truth and is no longer battling depression or suicidal thoughts.” One hopes Jones does not approach his job with the same lack of objectivity with which he regards his personal life. Jones acts as “U.S. Army Sustainment Command Cyber Division chief” — essentially he oversees cyber security for Army logistics. When China launches a massive cyber strike to cripple the U.S. military before a major invasion (say, of a small island neighbor), “living his truth” is not an acceptable excuse for failure.
Such non sequitur programming only deepens the malaise felt by current soldiers and potential recruits. Who wants to join and fight for a military that spends more effort on indulging personal fantasies than on the equipment and training its soldiers need to survive the next life-threatening situation? The military should be first and foremost a military, not a social work nonprofit.
Because it isn’t, it no longer attracts people who are interested in serving their country with excellence. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that military families are now advising their children — which historically account for 80% of recruits — against joining the service, particularly in the South. After falling 25% short of its recruiting goal in 2022, the U.S. Army is now expecting to fall short again, missing its target of 65,000 recruits by 15,000.
Experts point to economic explanations for military recruitment woes, but economic ups and downs have never affected military recruiting so much before. What’s new is that the military is forsaking its traditional values in pursuit of DEI evangelism, and the military’s traditional recruiting base — which skews culturally conservative, due to the prominence of values like loyalty, honor, and duty — is not interested in the new menu. The military wants to impose this alien ideology from the top down, and it’s finding footing less secure than it supposed.
In other words, the military is having its Bud Light moment, and it doesn’t even know it.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.