Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin found themselves called to the carpet. Facing their first House Armed Services Committee for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, their appearance before Congress would become a heated affair. Testifying about the realities of threats from both China and Russia, and going on the defensive for the US contributions to the conflict in Ukraine.
Milley spoke candidly about the situation. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is threatening to undermine not only European peace and stability but global peace and stability that my parents and a generation of Americans fought so hard to defend. We are now facing two global powers: China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities both of which intend to fundamentally change the rules-based current global order. We are entering a world that is becoming more unstable and the potential for significant international conflict is increasing, not decreasing.”
This kind of warning comes out of nowhere, and Gen. Milley knows battlefield situations better than almost anyone. His decades of experience and leadership are the reasons why he is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. This kind of experience also helps him to establish good plans for keeping Ukraine safe.
When asked about what more the government could do, Milley simply stated that we needed a larger and more consistent force. While suggesting NATO countries like Poland and The Baltics have permanent US bases established, he believes that they should be manned by a rotating force, not permanently stationed troops. While these countries are willing to build them, our staffing would be a significant cost that would be made even heavier by moving families and having them there for 2-3 years.
Milley also touched on the Russian sanctions. He admitted that they did a poor job of deterring Russian aggression, but also felt that short of a troops presence in Ukraine they would not have been able to do much to stop them from coming in. He believes the sanctions are economically breaking their backs and wearing them down greatly.
Austin also spoke up here to support the idea not to send troops to Ukraine and refused to speculate on what it could have done regarding relations with China, particularly when it relates to their situation with Taiwan. This also got Austin into the hot seat for other discussions, particularly with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
Gaetz openly condemned the military’s goals of ‘wokeism’ and the lack of fighting as a result. With both men shouting at and over one another, Gaetz issued the challenge that Austin and others made a severe miscalculation when they estimated that Russia would overrun Ukraine in short order and that Afghanistan would not fall into Taliban control so easily last year. Proclaiming “You totally blew those calls and maybe we would be better at them if the National Defense University actually worked a little more on strategy and a little less on wokeism.”
Austin never one to be challenged fired back at him, questioning what he had considered for alternatives. He questioned if Gaetz even considered the idea of what would have happened if they had not been feeding Ukraine munitions and supplies. While he made a great defense of the situation, Gaetz has a point. The American military is not the area for social experiments.
Much like you don’t do dumb things in your main car just to see what happens, you don’t test the waters with social justice issues by putting their ideas out there on to our troops. These men and women need to be at their best physically and mentally. They need the discipline that much of the country lacks, and they cannot be worried about the people they serve being upset because they forgot what pronouns their joes were using that week.