The US military, long revered for its neutrality and unwavering commitment to national defense, is grappling with a new domestic adversary: politicization. From the commander-in-chief to the senior civilian and military leaders of the Ministry of Defense (MoD), there has been a disturbing shift towards the use of the military for guerrilla purposes. This trend is not just misplaced; it undermines the military’s credibility and distracts from its core mission more effectively than any foreign adversary.
Politicization is corroding the foundation of trust, impartiality and unity on which the military stands. This creates divisions within the ranks, questions the decisions of the military, and gives our enemies the opportunity to question the integrity of the United States on the world stage. This internal threat is arguably more dangerous than any external challenge that the armed forces face, as it directly undermines the morale and operational structure of the military.
However, recent amendments to the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA), considered by the House of Representatives, offer the necessary “call” and “call to action” to reverse this troubling trend.
First, the amendment banning the Department of Defense from conducting sex-confirmation operations and hormones reflects a refocusing on combat readiness and unit cohesion. The primary function of the armed forces is not to cater to individual medical preferences, but to train and maintain a force capable of defending the nation.
Second, a reduction in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and diversity and inclusion programs is needed to eliminate inappropriate and unnecessary ideologically motivated initiatives. Instead of focusing on identity politics, the military should prioritize meritocracy and operational efficiency.
The ban on wearing masks on military installations is a protection of personal freedoms. Soldiers, who often face much greater risks as adults, should be trusted to make their own health decisions. However, the amendment does not direct the Department of Defense to establish a path to reinstatement rather than fully reinstate military personnel unfairly discharged for refusing to take a COVID vaccine.
Fourth, the Department of Defense’s ban on executive actions related to climate change confirms that the mission of the military is national defense, not environmental policy, which is best left to other government agencies.
Finally, the Defense Department’s ban on abortion-related travel reimbursements confirms that military funds should only go towards defense spending.
These amendments represent a strong “call” against politicization and a return to the core mission of the armed forces. This is a clear signal to the Ministry of Defense and the Commander-in-Chief that the focus of the armed forces must be refocused on national defense and not on serving as a platform for political ends.
Civilian and military leaders alike must uphold their oaths and oppose this destructive and pernicious trend. In doing so, they can help put the US military back on track: an unwavering focus on protecting and serving the United States of America, free from the divisive influence and stranglehold of politics.
Demetris Grimes is a former US Navy officer, aviator, board member of SECDEF, and diplomat with military decorations.