Transforming the Military, One Tweet at a Time
July 31, 2017
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published July 30, 2017 by The Washington Times.
It took President Trump kicking a hornet’s nest to provide a moment’s distraction from the media’s obsession with all things Russian.
His tweeted reversal of President Obama’s transgender military inclusion mandate didn’t knock the Russians off the front pages or CNN for long. But it refocused the public on Mr. Trump’s signature promise to “make America great again.”
The abruptly issued order actually has little to do with sexual politics. It’s about restoring the singular purpose of the military, which is to wage wars and defend the nation. During the campaign, Mr. Trump vowed to rebuild the military, and that’s what he’s doing.
Anything that distracts from the military’s main mission or makes it harder for our troops to survive in combat is a stealth attack on our men and women in uniform. Mr. Trump made it clear that military readiness overrides all other considerations, including hurt feelings or threats by disappointed interest groups.
Here’s how the commander in chief deftly transformed the discussion about one of the left’s favorite social experiments:
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” Mr. Trump said in several tweets. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Cue the rage. CNN predictably whined that this announcement — according to unnamed sources — took the Joint Chiefs “by surprise,” something that never bothered CNN when Mr. Obama’s minions imposed his bizarre policies on the military.
It could not have been that much of a surprise given that Defense Secretary James Mattis had already ordered a six-month delay in implementing the Obama policy, under which recruitment of Corporal Klingers was to begin by July 1 with full inclusion by January 1, 2018.
The Army, Air Force and Marine Corps had sought a two-year delay in order to fend off the madness long enough to let sanity seep back in. As a hard-charging businessman, Mr. Trump apparently figured, “They’ve made their case, why wait?”
Among other things, this should help chaplains to breathe easier. Under Mr. Obama’s quisling commanders, they faced increasing pressure to abandon biblical morality and convert to New Age nonsense, all in the name of tolerance and inclusion.
Mr. Trump’s tweet also poked a huge hole in the left’s main argument for opening the military to anyone and everyone: We all deserve to serve.
At The Washington Post, columnist Dana Milbank darkly warned of “rebukes from pro-military Republicans who argue that all able-bodied, patriotic Americans should be allowed to serve.”
Really? I wonder where he found that phone booth full of them. Plus, there is no “right” to be in the military. Service is a privilege and a duty. Either way, it’s up to the armed forces to choose only those who will enhance military readiness, not detract from its deadly serious mission.
Even sports teams reserve the right to reject people who can’t help them win. Can you imagine telling the Washington Redskins that, henceforth, they have to suit up transgender cornerbacks or face fines?
With lives on the line and the nation’s defense in the balance, the military must enforce rigorous standards without worrying about social revolutionaries.
But back to the biggest point: Restoration, and with it, respect.
At the Veterans Administration, which suffered a string of scandals under the Obama regime, such as hundreds of veterans dying while awaiting medical care, change has come quickly under Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin.
Mr. Shulkin had served under Mr. Obama as undersecretary of health for veterans and is not a veteran. But as National Review’s Jim Geraghty has chronicled, he is doing what Mr. Trump promised: waking up the VA and giving veterans better health options.
By July 3, he had “fired 526 employees, demoted another 27, and temporarily suspended another 194 for longer than two weeks.” In April, the VA launched a website allowing veterans to compare wait times and view Yelp-style reviews of facilities.
Last year, the VA’s inspector general reported that “more than a third of calls were being shunted to backup call centers,” and that some wound up in voicemail or took a half-hour to answer. A new crisis line for vets struggling with PTSD, thoughts of suicide, or other mental stress is now answering “more than 90 percent of calls within 8 seconds.”
Imagine that, taking our veterans’ needs seriously.
Despite the progressive hysteria over the Trump tweets, it’s all about making America — and the military — great again.