Gen. Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has defended the U.S. military from right-wing accusations that it has gone “too woke.”
“No, not at all,” Milley told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired Sunday. “And I’m not sure what that word truly means,” the top U.S. military official added.
Milley described the U.S. military as “exceptionally strong” and “powerful” with its readiness rates “better now than they’ve been in years.”
“This military is a lot of things, but woke, it’s not,” he said. “So, I take exception to that. I think that people say those things for reasons that are their own reasons, but it’s not true. It’s not accurate. It’s not to say there are some things out there that could fit into that category but it’s not a broad-brush description of the U.S. military as it exists today.”
Conservatives have railed against the military’s efforts to counter extremism and its teaching of critical race theory. Milley has previously slammed as “offensive” the claims promoted by former President Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Fox News personality Tucker Carlson among others.
Also in the CNN interview, Milley opened up about his “mistake” in participating in a June 2020 photo-op with then-President Donald Trump amid anti-racism protests.
The U.S. military should be apolitical, he said, recalling how he walked away from the event as soon as he realized what was going on. There was “no place for a uniform to be in a political event, period,” he added. “We don’t want our military involved in domestic politics.”
Milley must leave his post when his statutory term ends on Oct. 1. His replacement is currently unknown, thanks to Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) singlehanded, monthslong blocking of military nominations and promotions from advancing in the Senate in protest of the Pentagon’s policy which allows service members to take time off to seek abortion care in other states.