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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks at a news briefing at the Pentagon on July 20, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The Pentagon so far is not taking seriously persistent concerns about issues like COVID-19 vaccine mandates and “woke” leadership undermining the confidence of current and prospective service members in the hierarchy of the U.S. Armed Forces, according to a statement given this week in response to grievances aired at LifeSiteNews and elsewhere.

On Tuesday, LifeSiteNews published an op-ed by Robert A. Green Jr., an active-duty commander in the United States Navy. He argued that the “ways in which our senior military leaders betrayed the trust of service members and the American people are both numerous and sordid. In nearly every major case, senior leaders circled the wagons to protect themselves and the institutions they led rather than holding individual leaders accountable.”

Cmdr. Green, speaking for himself despite potential risk of retaliation from his superiors, primarily cited two decades of a War on Terror without “clear strategic objectives or victory criteria” that resulted in more than 7,000 military deaths, a poorly-planned and executed withdrawal from Afghanistan resulting in 13 avoidable military deaths and more than $7 billion in military equipment left behind for the Taliban, and the expulsion of more than 8,400 service members, many with unjustly-blemished service records, for resisting COVID-19 vaccination.

In all these cases, “no military leaders were held accountable,” he wrote. “In an effort to protect themselves and fight for their individual constitutional rights, service members launched nearly 40 lawsuits against the DoD and their military leadership. At the risk of emphasizing the obvious, this is not a sign of a healthy and trusting force. Nor is it a sign that military leaders have any credibility with a significant portion of that force.”

Cmdr. Green’s remarks caught the attention of The Epoch Times, which published its own article on his warning, as well as additional details from his book Defending the Constitution behind Enemy Lines, in which he elaborates on the battles over military vaccine mandates.

Epoch also reached out to the Pentagon for comment about the situation and received the following reply: “Our research shows that the top barriers to service are concerns about death or injury, PTSD, emotional issues, and leaving friends and family – not political issues. Concerns about vaccines and ‘wokeness’ are among the least likely to be raised as reasons not to join the military.”

“DoD leadership is playing a very dangerous game right now in light of the current recruiting and readiness crisis,” Cmdr. Green responded in a statement to LifeSiteNews. “We are more vulnerable than we have been in many years and our near-peer adversaries are preparing to take us on. In the face of this growing threat, the Pentagon has cast more obfuscation in an attempt to blame anything but themselves. Our leaders must regain the trust of the American people by admitting their failures and holding accountable those responsible.

“DoD leaders refuse to ‘get real’ about their role in betraying the trust of service members and the American people. They also refuse to do what it takes to ‘get better.’ Until Pentagon leaders are willing to take these valid concerns seriously, the Navy’s “Get Real Get Better campaign can only be taken as a joke or an insidious method of whitewashing massive strategic failures. 

“The Pentagon has repeatedly attempted to paint those of us willing to speak out as ‘political.’ This could not be further from the truth,” he continued. “We just want our leaders to follow the law and honor individual constitutional rights. In this accusation of being ‘political,’ DoD leaders are projecting upon those defending the Constitution, something that they themselves appear to be guilty of. It has become obvious that our senior military leaders will prioritize their own career progression above all else. Their excuse is that they were ‘just following orders.’ This excuse did not work at Nuremberg in 1946 and it will not work now. The only option left to us is to publicly call for accountability.

“The failures of the past 20 years will continue unless there is radical action to right the ship, rebuild trust by defending individual rights, and re-prioritize warfighting readiness,” Cmdr. Green warned.

“The required actions start with severe consequences for those at the top (retired or otherwise) who have frivolously wasted American lives in the Middle East and who more recently have violated the constitutional rights of service members. Should we fail to achieve this accountability, future generations will surely pay in meaningless rivers of blood. Only once we have put our house in order can the American people trust us enough to send us their sons and daughters.”

The steady rise of “woke” ideology within the military, which has persisted and grown since the Clinton years despite the presidencies of Republicans George W. Bush and Donald Trump, has been intensified by Democrat President Joe Biden, who upon taking office quickly moved to open the military to recruits suffering from gender dysphoria in a reversal of Trump administration policy, then had Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin launch a review of supposed “domestic extremism” within the military that many saw as a pretext to purge conservative views from the ranks.

In March 2023, the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) published an update on the administration’s work to infuse the armed forces with left-wing gender ideology, ranging from enforcement of preferred pronouns, to allowing cross-dressing and the use of opposite-sex showers and restrooms on military bases, to making it harder to access information on the negative consequences of such policies.

Until last December, Biden’s Pentagon leaders also enforced COVID-19 vaccine mandates on American service men and women, provoking lawsuits and threatening soldier and pilot shortages in the tens of thousands, which only added to broader problems of force strength, troop morale, and public confidence.

During a Pentagon press briefing in April 2022 on the Army’s budget for Fiscal Year 2023, Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo announced the Army had “proactively made a decision to temporarily reduce our end strength from 485,000 Soldiers to 476,000 in FY ’22, and 473,000 in FY ’23.” The Military Times reported at the time that this “could leave the service at its smallest size since 1940, when it had just over 269,000 troops.”

Gallup and Ronald Reagan Institute polls have both shown that the public has lost confidence in the military’s leaders, which presumably also has a significant effect on prospective soldiers’ willingness to sign up.

Republican U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama is currently putting a hold on en masse confirmations of nominees to Pentagon positions until the Biden administration backs down on its insistence on subsidizing abortions in the military, which National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claims is necessary to maintain a “ready force.”

Editor’s note: This article was updated Friday, October 13, 2023.