DOD Woke Agenda

Military Readiness And Morale

By Robert Charles, former naval intelligence officer (USNR)
Former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney

Military readiness is a serious issue. Nations rise and fall on it. Measured by manning, training, equipping, and leadership, it is also about high morale.

What is that? Do we have it? If not, why not? Needed to win, how do you get it?

These are perennial questions, as old as the Greeks, Romans, and Vikings, familiar to Generals Pershing, Marshall, Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton, all wartime presidents, before WWI, WWII, and after Vietnam. They are timely now.

What do numbers tell us? Enlistment has plummeted since the proud days of Reagan, with only 148,318 Americans enlisting in 2020 versus 360,745 in 1980, a 58 percent decline. Fewer apply, and more exceptions get made.

Applications to the military have dropped 73 percent since 1980, down from 768,532 to 205,105, while acceptances rose from 46.9 percent to 72.3 percent.  Think about that. Something has to give.

While elite forces are different, drawn from highly motivated, mentally, emotionally, and physically strong applicants, the larger pool is a worry.

1968 saw 1.5 active-duty personnel. Today, we have less than 30 percent of that, and 77 percent of young Americans are assessed “unqualified to serve.” Big gap.

In 2023, the Army, Navy, and Air Force all fell short of recruiting goals – by double digits. States with the highest share of joiners were Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Nevada, next closest set Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma.

To borrow from Winston Churchill’s description of RAF pilots, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”

What about “training?” Where do you begin? Tone deaf to what motivates patriots, Biden’s military runs ads for transgender, multi-gender, and woke recruits. To increase readiness. Really?

Meantime, excuses are constantly made. Even the Wall Street Journal says Biden has twisted the Pentagon into a woke pretzel.

At the Pentagon and elsewhere, things are a mess, “the Department of Veterans Affairs has a gender gingerbread person.

NASA says to beware of micro-inequities.

And if U.S. Army servicewomen express ‘discomfort showering with a female who has male genitalia,’ what’s the brass’s reply? Talk to your commanding officer but toughen up.”

This is “no kidding” stuff, the sort that makes China, Russia, Iran, and America’s worst enemies drool, believe they can beat us in battle, believe we are stumbling.

Compulsory, force-fed, do-it-or-get-fired, woke “training” is everywhere, loathsome madness. Orwellian words, Marxist doctrine, “critical race theory,” “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” punishment for not misusing “pronouns” for self-redefined genders, and attacks on faith – all prioritized over warfighting.

Left unsaid are the basics. No one will say them:  Winning wars requires superior warfighting, hand-to-hand conflict, marksmanship, self-defense, defense of others, and how to kill effectively, as well as act selflessly – on risk of death.

What motivated America’s WWII Generation individually, by platoon, company, and army – was unblinking confidence in mission, nation, and priority on winning.

Lose that, and you lose it all. These great patriots, the ones who lie at Arlington and around the world, did not care about being accommodated, pampered, excused, fussed over, would laugh at micro-aggressions, flavors of gender, and loved their faith.

Training followed that priority, soldiers focused on never letting others down, asking nothing special, and preparing to survive, defend, kill, and do their job. That is how we advanced liberty.

“Equipping?” We are barely equipped for the last war, let alone the next. We are not recapitalizing properly, admitting mistakes, correcting errors, and thinking about what lies before us, “around corners.” Dozens of studies confirm shortfalls in materialarmaments, ammunition, missiles, and indicators of strategic readiness.

The past three years have been a misery, poor funding, oversight, strategy, planning, Ukraine draining unreplenished inventories, and weak long-term thinking.

Finally, “leadership?” Embarrassing. Toxic wokeness, anti-traditional prejudice, self-interested, and blithely leftist “leaders” – then a Secretary of Defense goes AWOL, lies to the troops, the president, then lies again, leaves the Pentagon leaderless, is plainly all about himself, and … no consequences.

So, we come to the part of readiness critical for winning – morale. With nothing but high morale, men have beaten the odds; without it, winning can be impossible.

So, why do we have diminished morale? Do you want to know? Because our nation’s leaders are perceived as lacking integrity, do not understand sacrifice, do not care.

None of them address this or what is at stake – perhaps because they do not know, do not think war is likely, or have no idea what they are up against.

Mystifyingly, our leaders do not prioritize high morale, love of country, risk of death, or honor.

In short, many civilian and even military leaders are now purely political animals, more concerned about sensitivity, not hurting a recruit’s feelings, protecting their career, and fearing pronouns more than China, a potentially fatal error – for the nation.

Putting leftist politics above hard-fought victories is a dangerous game.

High morale comes from being real fighters, and unapologetic for that commitment. We should not have leaders more interested in a sensitivity medal than winning.

You either get it or do not.

High morale wins wars; lack of it loses them.

A quote from George C. Marshall, former Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State, says it all:

“It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory.”

That’s it.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

First published in AMAC

Association of Mature American Citizens (alternative to AARP)

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