DeSantis Issues Memorial Day Warning About US Navy

DeSantis Issues Memorial Day Warning About US Navy
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2023 NRB International Christian Media convention in Orlando, Fla., on May 22, 2023, in a still from video. (Courtesy of NRB/Screenshot via NTD)
Jack Phillips

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned that there is a need to improve morale in the U.S. military as left-wing policies have taken hold.

DeSantis, who served in the Navy, warned on Memorial Day that the military he sees today "is different from the military I served in." The governor joined the Navy in 2004 before being stationed in Iraq and Guantanamo and being discharged in 2010, but he served in the Navy Reserve until 2019.

"I see a lot of emphasis now on political ideologies, things like gender pronouns. I see a lot about things like [diversity, equity, and inclusion]. And I think that that's caused recruiting to plummet," the Florida governor explained to Fox News. "I think it's driven off a lot of warriors, and I think morale is low."

The governor, who announced his 2024 presidential candidacy last week, signaled that he would make changes to the military if he's elected. In Monday's interview, he questioned why anyone would want to serve with the current set of rules.

"Why would you have wanted to join the Marine Corps back in the day? Why did everybody else who joined the Army?" DeSantis asked. "I remember being in Iraq, and we were in Fallujah, and it was not going well. And yet people were still willing to sign up knowing they’d get sent to Iraq because they believed that this was something special."

DeSantis did not elaborate on how he would change the military if elected, but he stressed "big changes" would be made starting day one. One policy he's considering would entail a program to counter the Chinese regime, but he stressed that recruitment needs to be boosted amid reports of persistent shortfalls.

The U.S. Army last year missed its recruitment goals by 15,000 active-duty members, or some 25 percent of its target. The Army is now about 7 percent smaller than it was two years ago, according to the military's figures.

For the U.S. Air Force, Assistant Secretary Alex Wagner said this year that it will "will miss its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999," although it met its recruitment goal for 2022. In March, Wagner and several other top officials sounded the alarm during a Senate hearing on the military.

“Today the military faces a recruiting crisis,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said, adding that for this year “the Army and Navy will miss the mark by 10,000 each.”

U.S. soldiers attend an inauguration ceremony by transforming the Area Support Group Poland into the permanent U.S. Army Garrison Poland, at Camp Kosciuszko in Poznan, Poland, on March 21, 2023. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images)
U.S. soldiers attend an inauguration ceremony by transforming the Area Support Group Poland into the permanent U.S. Army Garrison Poland, at Camp Kosciuszko in Poznan, Poland, on March 21, 2023. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images)

In that hearing, Scott and other Republican senators flagged the federal government's and military's overall pivot to "wokeness" and embracing of left-wing rules. Instead of focusing on fighting wars, the military is pushing policies targeting abortions as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), training that is pushing some young, conservative Americans away, said Republicans.

“I do hope this statement is not a reflection of the department priorities,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Ala.) said at the time. “We have a recruiting problem … and yet this statement, some 26 pages, does not say anything about recruiting until page 20. Much of the statement is related to abortion, diversity, inclusion, equity.”

Several days after his presidential launch, DeSantis told a Florida media outlet that he would remove left-wing DEI initiatives from the military immediately.

“I think it’s been politicized. I think you have a focus on things like DEI. A focus on things like gender pronouns. And that’s diverting from the core mission, and the core mission is really what attracts people to the military. So recruiting is suffering, people are leaving the service,” DeSantis remarked.

The governor also recently promised to pardon protesters who were arrested after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach, and also promised to pardon former President Donald Trump if he's convicted in the future.

2024 Ambitions

Last week, the Florida governor announced his candidacy but polls show that he's about 30 points behind Trump among Republicans. However, DeSantis is ahead of the other declared GOP candidates such as former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, radio host Larry Elder, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Trump has consistently criticized DeSantis over the past several months, and did so again after the governor made his presidential announcement on Twitter with CEO Elon Musk amid technical glitches. Over the weekend, Trump chided the governor after he was endorsed by the Club for Growth, a conservative tax organization.

"His poll numbers have been absolutely CRASHING," Trump wrote of DeSantis, adding that he has "just spent some of the RINO [Republican In Name Only] money they have accumulated on an ad campaign hoping to counter the fact that Desanctus, just off the worst Presidential 'Launch' in history, opted three times to cut & destroy Social Security, even lifting the minimum age to 70. He also voted to cut Medicare & institute a 23% National Sales Tax. Ron is a loser!"