GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis on Tuesday pledged to boost military readiness and fix recruiting problems if elected president through policies that focus on merit and nonpartisanship.
DeSantis’ plan takes aim at diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies and perceptions of politicization infesting all ranks of the U.S. military, arguing such priorities have come at the expense of readiness. Announcing the agenda at an event in Columbia, South Carolina, the 2024 GOP hopeful promised to “rip the woke out of the military” and restore what he said he believes is a lost sense of patriotism and unity.
“You have people from all walks of life and you go through the same cauldron, and you come out Americans… military ethos, military service, that transcends any differences that we bring to the table, whether that be ethnic, religious” or otherwise, he said at the event. Instead, the civilian leadership of the military has ordered troops to serve a certain political ideology.
“We need a military that is focused on being lethal, being ready, being capable. And if there’s anybody’s agenda that gets in the way of that, that agenda needs to take a hike. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
DeSantis’ plan includes getting rid of diversity and inclusion administrative personnel within each military service branch and canceling the major DEI programs and reviews, such as the Racial Disparity Review. The plan would also block DOD from contracting with research and development companies on topics related to DEI until their policies change.
In addition, he would reverse President Joe Biden’s order permitting transgender individuals to serve in the military and cut off all taxpayer funding for sex change surgeries and hormone therapies, citing readiness issues.
Other efforts would include narrowing curriculum at service academies to cover subjects directly related to military performance, cracking down on servicemembers’ social media use to support “activist” causes, removing race or gender criteria for accessions, hiring and promotions throughout the military and punishing those who support such criteria.
The “woke mind virus” has driven great warriors away, DeSantis claimed at the event Tuesday. He intends to reinstate servicemembers discharged solely for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, and allow them to return at their prior rank.
Another agenda item would revoke security clearances of DOD senior leaders who “go on network and cable news shows and who, as paid analysts, monetize and politicize their access to so-called ‘inside information,’” as well as the 51 intelligence officials who signed the Hunter Biden letter.
He pledged a thorough evaluation of all four and three-star commanders and civilian equivalents, removing those found to have promoted policies that detract from readiness and warfighting capabilities, although no specific criteria were provided.
Any leader who lies under oath or joint chiefs officer who contacts an enemy counterpart without alerting the president should be fired, the plan said.
“No longer will there be zero consequences and lack of accountability,” the statement read.
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