DeSantis plans to overhaul military and ditch ‘wokeness’ amid recruitment woes

DeSantis plans to overhaul military and ditch 'wokeness' amid recruitment woes

EXCLUSIVE — Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is planning to announce a policy proposal on Tuesday focused on revamping the military and steering it away from its emphasis on social justice .

DeSantis, who is running for president in 2024, believes his plan will succeed in rooting “‘woke’ ideology” out of the military and returning the entity’s focus to “mission accomplishment.”

In addition to removing prominent diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the military, the proposal will aim to ensure that people are promoted “based on merit and achievement.”

The Florida Republican recalled his service in the Navy, which he said he will always be proud of. “I served in Iraq alongside Navy SEAL Team One,” he said. “I’ve always thought if my kids wanted to go to the military, that would be a good thing to do.” In recent years, though, he and other veterans have begun to question that dream for their children, he added.

“I think it’s because the military has really lost focus. It’s indulging in political activism, social experimentation, [and] ‘woke’ ideology,” DeSantis explained.


He pointed to the recent spread of the ideas of social justice and equity in the military. The Department of Defense houses an Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the White House, under President Joe Biden, released a report last year detailing its plans to advance equity within the DOD.

The DOD has come under fire in recent years, as its newer advertisements have highlighted diversity to attract recruits. One ad, released in 2021, drew backlash for featuring a lesbian wedding. “It begins in California with a little girl raised by two moms,” Cpl. Emma Malonelord describes in the video. “Although I had a fairly typical childhood, took ballet, played violin, I also marched for equality. I like to think I’ve been defending freedom from an early age.”

DeSantis blasted the Navy’s use of drag queens to recruit members earlier this year. “I’m a Navy veteran, and when I saw the use of drag queens to recruit new people, I immediately thought, ‘China must be laughing at us,'” he said.

This is a matter that is drawing concern from voters, the governor said. He described the displeasure among voters on the campaign trail with the military’s current focus. “People get it. They understand that this is not the direction that we want to go as a military,” he said.

The Army announced earlier this year it would fail to meet its recruitment goal again. “We are not going to make that goal,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said during a congressional hearing. “We are doing everything we can to get as close to it as possible. We are going to fall short.”

While social justice is affecting institutions across the country, DeSantis noted it is most destructive when it occurs in the military. “We need the military to be focused on the mission. And all this other stuff is just going to detract from readiness. It’s going to reduce morale and unit cohesion,” he explained.

According to him, this kind of focus in the military and its branches emboldens adversaries such as China. He said he’d hope the military has the capacity to defend the country but that “I also wouldn’t want to take any chances of that.”

Being a Navy veteran, he said he is the best equipped to overhaul the military because “I understand what it takes. I understand the demands of service. I understand the sacrifices that people make.” He said, “If you’re going to ask people to make those types of sacrifices, you better make sure they’re sacrificing for something that is unifying and that really, really matters.”

“Military culture should be different than civilian culture,” he claimed. “That’s by design.”


DeSantis noted veterans should have “an enormous sense of pride because you’ve done a lot for your country.” He further detailed that veterans “are getting out now with a recognition that things have gotten worse in terms of the culture of the institution.”

The Florida governor released a video announcing his intention to attack “‘woke’ ideology” in the military on Monday, and DeSantis’s 2024 campaign will release the details to accomplish these military goals on Tuesday.