(The Center Square) – On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his plan to “restore the U.S. military to make it mission-focused once again.” He also vowed to eliminate the Biden administration’s “woke” political policies he says have contributed to a recruitment and military readiness crisis.
DeSantis, who has advanced pro-military policies as governor in Florida, was deployed to Iraq in 2007, serving as the legal advisor to the SEAL Team One commander, Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah as a Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) officer. He was first commissioned as a Navy officer while attending Harvard Law School.
“There was no greater honor than knowing I was wearing the cloth of my country when I served in the military, but our nation’s once-proud fighting force has been infected and paralyzed by a political agenda,” DeSantis said to a cheering crowd in Columbia, South Carolina. “It is time to rip the woke out of the military and return it to its core mission. We must restore a sense of confidence, conviction, and patriotic duty to our institutions — and that begins with our military.”
His four-part plan includes 1) “ripping political agendas” out of the military, 2) restoring military standards, 3) “breaking the swamp” and promoting accountability, and 4) turning the tide against “Biden’s military recruitment crisis.”
His plan eliminates “Diverse-aucrats” (diversity bureaucrats) and all diversity and inclusion policies, programs and positions. It includes ending drag shows on military bases and revoking Executive Order 14004, “which allows transgender personnel to serve in the military in their preferred sex and provides taxpayer funds for sex change hormones and surgeries, which cause issues with readiness.”
It also prohibits the Department of Defense from hiring advertising firms that blacklist conservative news sources, closes diversity and equity offices and reforms the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness “to focus on the critical challenges facing the military such as recruiting, retention, and healthcare.”
It also bans all Critical Race Theory courses at service academies, instead requiring them to prioritize teaching military history, leadership, nuclear engineering, and other critical mission-ready subjects. CRT is banned from military training, as is “woke recruitment” social media content, under the plan. Instead, DeSantis plans to create a “Merit, Fairness, and Equality Task Force” to review military academy training curriculum and to overhaul the Professional Military Education system, which he says “produces substandard quality education.”
To restore military standards, his plan will recognize differences between men and women, eliminate racial preferences and prioritize one standard for mission readiness. It includes requiring all branches to have physical qualifications according to gender-neutral standards, bans race and gender quotas in recruitment and promotions, opposes “any efforts to draft our daughters,” among others.
His plan also reinstates service members who didn’t comply with the COVID-19 shot mandate and were forced out of the military. This also includes reinstating their prior rank and salary and providing back pay.
It also prioritizes “lethality, readiness, and capabilities, not ideology and climate change.” The DOD “should never prioritize climate politics over national security and any environmental projects should require a cost–benefit analysis that prioritizes national security needs,” DeSantis argues.
His plan also enforces several policies related to officer code of conduct and eliminates issuing security clearances to retired DOD officials who “go on network and cable news shows and who, as paid analysts, monetize and politicize their access to so-called ‘inside information.'” It also implements accountability measures for high-ranking military officials, including for those who lie under oath to Congress or “contact enemy counterparts without the knowledge of the president.”
To expand recruitment efforts, DeSantis plans to foster national pride in the military by developing “a program for schools to teach that our military is and has been a force for justice and good in the world,” expanding JROTC programs and civics programs in secondary schools, and promoting military recruitment through the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, among other initiatives.
He also hopes to implement policies that have proven to be successful in Florida, including allowing military families to have educational savings accounts.
Under DeSantis’ leadership, Florida has created multiple programs to support active-duty service members and veterans, including creating programs to enable military veterans to apply for teaching jobs, recognizing schools that honor military families, and allocating millions of dollars towards down payment and closing cost assistance for service members and veterans through a “Hometown Heroes” program.
Florida, which has the third largest veteran population behind California and Texas, also offers a range of resources and benefits to veterans, including in-state tuition for them and their families and several property tax exemptions, among others.