It was only a few weeks ago that President Joe Biden announced that we were committed to maintaining Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin is recognizing two parts of Ukraine — Donetsk and Luhansk — as independent states. His team of woke appeasers won’t even be able to muster significant sanctions against this Russian aggression.
This column has not advocated military intervention in Ukraine to stop Putin’s aggression because we have no vital national security interest there. Diplomacy has, again, failed to accomplish what Biden wants. He doesn’t understand that diplomacy has to be backed by military might — the “mailed fist in the velvet glove” — or it will fail. At the same time, he and his team are undermining our military at every turn.
The primary concerns of military leaders — both civilian and military — must be the lethality and combat readiness of the forces under their command. There are hundreds of things that comprise each of them and thousands that can detract from them.
But those concerns are not those of anyone in the Biden administration, from the president himself to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the rest. Also failing are the generals and admirals who have the duty to demand that the civilians reorient themselves to what is really important. To Biden’s team of idiots running the military, their only concerns are wokeness and climate change.
According to the information given to the Senate Armed Services Committee by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, our military has dedicated nearly six million man-hours since the start of the Biden administration on “developing, preparing, delivering, attending or assessing” new plans to address climate change, diversity, and extremism. Every one of those hours detracted from training for combat.
The effects are most easily measured by the reduction in fighter pilot training for combat readiness. The Air Force and the Navy, operating under congressional continuing resolutions, are cutting back from already tight budgets and reducing pilot training time. The Air Force has already said that it would have to “execute a flying hour program well below what is required to maintain high levels of proficiency” under a continuing resolution, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Navy has also said that it is cutting fighter training budgets by 10 to 20 percent.
What that means is that our pilots won’t be ready to take on peer adversaries such as China and Russia.
I asked my friend Lt. General David Deptula about the effect of such cuts. He is a renowned fighter pilot and the only Air Force officer to qualify for combat mission readiness in the F-15 in every rank he’s held, from lieutenant to lieutenant general. He is now the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
Deptula told me, “To stay proficient in all aspects of the demanding role of a fighter pilot requires flying at least three sorties a week. Depending on the particular fighter and the training missions involved the average sortie duration falls between 1.3 and 1.5 hours, so 12 sorties a month equates to 15 to 18 flying hours per month. If a fighter pilot gets anything less than that, then their proficiency rapidly declines. If they go up to flying four or more sorties a week, they get really good. It’s a non-linear relationship in both directions.”
Deptula added, “The complexities of aerial combat, particularly when coordinating with multiple types of friendly aircraft, and arrayed against potential enemies posing surface, air, and electronic threats is extraordinarily demanding and requires constant training and practice.”
According to John Venable, who formerly commanded the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Air Force flight hours and sortie rates for fighter pilots in 2020 “fell to historic lows” amid the COVID pandemic. Venable, in the Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Index of U.S. Military Strength, wrote: “… the average line combat mission-ready fighter pilot received less than 1.5 sorties a week and 131 hours of flying time that year.” That works out to 10.9 hours a month, a level Venable told the Wall Street Journal is on par with the proficiency Russian pilots had during the Cold War. Which is to say, far below our standards.
And then there’s climate change, which the Biden administration believes is more important than military readiness.
The latest version of this nonsense comes from Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, who announced the Army’s new strategy for tackling climate at the beginning of the month. The new strategy calls for the Army to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 (from 2005 levels) and become emissions-free by 2050.
To do that, the Army will begin by shifting its non-combat vehicles to electric power. If Wormuth’s strategy is carried out to its conclusion, it will require all vehicles — presumably including tanks — to be electric-powered. The practicality of “refueling” electric vehicles in a combat environment apparently escapes her.
Wormuth, busy with virtue-signaling, didn’t say how much this will cost, but the price tag will be in the billions of dollars. That money could be far better spent. Her priority is climate change, not meeting the threats our nation has to face.
What isn’t included in the Army strategy is the development of new weapon systems that can function at temperatures so low that they can work well in the Arctic. As this column revealed more than four years ago, Russian arms makers are working hard to develop arms, vehicles, electronics, and aircraft that can operate in extremely cold temperatures, which much of our and NATO’s military equipment cannot do.
While the Army is investing in climate change, our military is going entirely woke. Austin’s March 12 memorandum to all services requires them to focus on, among other things, “Expand[ing] ongoing efforts to ensure regular DoD engagement with governments, citizens, civil society and the private sector to promote respect for the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons and combat discrimination.”
Military civilian leaders and military commanders should be concerned — first and foremost — with increasing the lethality and readiness of their forces. But, as in the case of Austin and Wormuth, the emphasis is, instead, on wokeness. Austin is ensuring that those misplaced priorities are embedded in the training of senior officers.
The National Defense University’s mission is to educate warfighters “and other national security leaders in critical thinking and the creative application of military power to inform national strategy and globally integrated operations, under conditions of disruptive change, in order to prevail in war, peace, and competition.” Part of that apparently is inviting Thomas Piketty to lecture students on the merits of democratic socialism.
Piketty, often called the Karl Marx of the 21st century, has written several books, among them Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In it, he argues for redistribution of wealth and confiscatory taxation of the wealthy. He also condemns entrepreneurialism, writing: “The problem is simply that the entrepreneurial argument cannot justify all inequalities of wealth, no matter how extreme.” Piketty won’t admit that socialism has never succeeded in anything other than killing economic prosperity and delivering misery wherever it has been attempted.
The title of Piketty’s February 16 lecture, “Responding to China: The Case for Global Justice and Democratic Socialism,” speaks for itself. “Democratic socialism,” according to the Democratic Socialists of America website, seeks to replace capitalism with socialism in Marxist-Leninist terms.
There’s probably little harm in exposing National Defense University students to Piketty’s version of socialism, but there is every doubt that National Defense University will equally promote capitalism, which has been the theory on which our country’s economy has become the strongest in the world. Inviting someone such as conservative economist Stephen Moore to offer an opposing view would be the right step, but the wokeness that is infecting National Defense University will probably prevent that.
Our national security is dependent on the strength of our economy. The two are inseparable. So is the uniformity of our military’s commitment to American values.
Retired Marine Lt. General Greg Newbold voiced concern that our military is being disunited and brainwashed with the woke “critical race theory.” Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley has defended training in critical race theory but Newbold disagrees strongly.
In a recent op-ed, Newbold wrote, “The tenets of Critical Race Theory — a cross-disciplinary intellectual and social movement that seeks to examine the intersection of race and law in the United States, but which has the unfortunate effect of dividing people along racial lines — undermine our military’s unity and diminish our warfighting capabilities.”
Newbold understands the need for uniform commitment to American ideals. Austin and his civilian bosses, including Biden, don’t.
Biden likes to talk tough on China and Russia, but he and his national security team don’t understand that tough talk doesn’t impress adversaries who know that a woke military is no threat to them. Our allies know this too, which is why they won’t back severe sanctions on Russia for taking a big bite out of Ukraine.