Government Watch / Politics

Hard Training, Not Wokeness, Wins War

Political leadership within the US military, and those to whom the military reports – namely the civilian political leadership in the United States – has taken a left turn that appears to place excuses, mutual recrimination, victimhood, and a culture of complaints over readiness. Social niceties have replaced the iron law of deterring and winning wars – preparing for no-excuses combat. We need to get on that.

While the evidence of this dangerous swerve is everywhere – new social mandates, excuses for underperformance, cultivating sensitivity over discipline, lower expectations, eagerness to accuse, plummeting recruitment – no one will say what all know: This is not what wins wars.

Across the military, we have seen a decade-long slide toward less readiness from ships to personnel, a retreat from soul, mind, and body-hardening required to win wars. In place of proven practices and no-exceptions rules, Democrats default to softer civilian norms, tolerating everything, and punishing nothing.

What has happened, in the name of a “kinder, gentler” military, is the norming of excuse-making, insubordination, and self-absorption. The idea is – apparently – to punish those who subscribe to old school training, raised voices, and submersion of self. Sliding is a priority on willingness to take risks, simulate real war-fighting. Which has no safe spaces or timeouts.

Instead, the military has decided to bow to new social norms and political pressure, suspending proven standards for everything from drug use to mental health, physical and designator requirements to creative sexual redefinition, going so far as to fund gender dystopia surgery.

While much has been written on this and the debate over replacing readiness with “diversity, equity, and inclusiveness” rages – really no diversity, group identity, ending values like faith, the bigger question is what impact this will have in the long run.

The only way to definitively know is to fight a war and lose, which is like measuring a cliff’s height by jumping, not advisable. But we can do comparative analysis, look at what fails.

For starters, China’s army – reserve and active duty – are twice the size of ours, so recruiting, retention, training, and being better warfighters – man for man – than the Chinese now matters.

Second, Chinese military law, while not a carbon copy of ours, does not tolerate wayward, self-satisfied, non-cohesive, untrained, or self-pitying soldiers. Unlike in the US, exceptions are not pervasive, nor excuses permitted. Offenders are promptly booted.

Yes, much of what China does in the civilian sector is indefensible, ruthless, intolerable, inhumane, and unconscionable – which is why any war we fight with them we must win, but basic discipline, uniformly enforced, prioritizing competence, readiness, and a logical division of labor hold there – and should hold here.

Third, while one could – and should – argue persuasively for an all-volunteer military force, which is motivated by willingness to take life-and-death risks for freedom, family, and nation with courage, honor, and personal commitment, the fact is that China has no recruiting shortfalls.

This is not an argument for conscription, but the reverse – making our armed forces a place where people go with heart, determination to do “the hard thing” for the right reasons, taking risks to preserve liberty and contain, confront, and as necessary prevail over aggressors who do not respect those values.

The only way we do this is to have a military that does not make excuses, lower standards, bow to social norms, or otherwise minimize readiness, competence, and the hard acts of training. Instead, we want a military proud of its hardness, mental, physical, and spiritual toughness – which attracts the same.

Here is the real test. Go read any of 1000 excellent memoirs of those who trained and fought in WWII, an existential war that we won – only barely, pushed back in places like Dieppe, Sicily, much of the Italian, French, and Pacific campaigns, almost overtaken in the Battle of the Bulge.

Here is what you will find. No one got soft training, sensitivity lessons, or gave a damn about them. They all credited their hard training with saving their lives, lives of their fellow soldiers, the war and freedom.

The motivation to win, to join a military dedicated to winning, to be on the winning team, fighting for freedom – is what will boost recruiting, make us ready, deter China – if necessary halt their aggression. 

In short, we do not need sensitive, soft, delicate, fragile, timeout, and “please give me a safe space” servicemembers. That is not how we reverse dangerously low recruiting numbers. It is with pride in the nation, knowledge of history, commitments to freedom, getting hard, stronger mentally, physically, emotionally, even intellectually – not the reverse.

Bottom line: Winning wars counts, which is why being ready counts, which is why real warfighting, not service tempered by selfish or socially popular attitudes, counts. Freedom is better than communism, and free armies outperform those who operate from fear – but getting hard also counts.

A thousand quotes make this point, from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to Henry V, Washington and John Paul Jones, to Lincoln, Grant, Lee, and Mead, America’s WWI leaders to Marshall, McArthur, Eisenhower and Patton, right up through Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell. If we want to win, we have to get on it.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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2 months ago

Sounds like something written by a “sensitive, soft, delicate, fragile, timeout, and “please give me a safe space” kind of guy.

2 months ago

Flying murderbots will win future wars. War machines are coming and they will be autonomous and indiscriminate.

2 months ago

It appears to me that the fighting would have to be done by older men in America. We reached a point a while back where we stopped teaching our male children how to be men. So we really won’t have any choice but to let the citizen soldier with the guns under their beds fight the wars for America now. We certainly don’t seem to be learning from our mistakes, we just coddle more and more. But the president seems to be a communist so probably just give up with out a shot fired. What a mess.

2 months ago

Want to fix the military? Start by firing Austin and “Lard Ass” Millie.

Karen Knowles
2 months ago

Excellent article, RBC! The military wasn’t meant to be kind and gentle. A strong military is a great deterrant which is preferable, but when war is necessary as is sometimes the case in the world we live in, we need to make sure we can win. The way things are right now with the weakening of our military is quite frightening.

2 months ago
Reply to  Karen Knowles

The real problem is that the military is being geared up to be used against its populace rather than a foreign entity.

2 months ago

I am the mother of 4 sons and I am appalled at the slick subversive news and commercials that focuses away the strength of our male population! The males are presented as unable to make a decision about plumbing, selling their used car, and(what do I do?) falling apart in a crises. The female is presented as “wearing the pants” in the family. WHAT A FARCE! It is brainwashing 24/7 that our male population defer to the weakest leaders we have ever had in our government.

Moms, Grandmothers, Aunts, Sisters stand up to this propaganda and let our men know that we are behind them and support them as the leaders they were born to be. Be the silent majority against this insidious grooming and lies against our intelligent males in the family.

I am flabbergasted at the “weakness of our current military leaders” and at our current Congress. In my opinion, our politicians need to serve our/their country first in the military and live up to their oath to defend our Constitution. Attending a class about our founding fathers and the tyranny they battled against and quit passing inane laws!

2 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

Some politicians have served but it does not make them to have an understanding. Once someone offers $$$$$ to them, most forget and start chasing that $$$$$ rather than their oath to the Constitution and country.

Mark J Cheviron
2 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

That is an excellent observation and it’s all around us. Women lifting weights and prize fighting and the men are doing the laundry

2 months ago

What is definition of WOKE ??????????

2 months ago

Think of it this way RBC. Team Biden and this administration are saving China billions upon billions of dollars that they don’t have to earmark for building up their military faster than they already are. By Team Biden hollowing out America’s military readiness from the inside, through all this focus on wokeness training and the insane climate change mandates for “sustainability” (Oh look! It’s a cloudy day, so our military aircraft which have been converted to all electric in the name of climate change can’t fly as far. All because the solar panels on the wings won’t collect enough energy to recharge, the lithium battery packs we purchased from China.) our military is being effectively downsized while China is rapidly expanding their capabilities.

anna huberb
2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Let’s not forget the N Korea that starved it’s population in order to build the military Foreign aid came to the rescue That is I guess called cooperation Supply of weapons and food Longest running play on the world stage

2 months ago

This country (the civilian population) and the especially the military need a good old fashion kick in the butt to wake up that includes 10 weeks of basic (boot camp) training!

2 months ago

We’re imitating the french after ww1. They were traumatized by their terrible losses in that war, understandably so, and retreated into a defensive stance. The warrior mentality was discouraged in boys. They had the numbers as well as the tech to win in 1940 but not the will. History repeats. Theres always hope but the type of change refered to in the article would require the forced retirement of all lefty officers above colonel and the quick promotion of the chesty pullers, bull halseys , doolittles and pattons in the ranks. If the ccp wants war, why would they wait for that to happen?

2 months ago

Another great and important article, Robert! I totally agree with your comments regarding the need for a “tougher” military. It is imperative that we be able to win wars and live through them. As a nation, we must provide our soldiers with the tools that are mandatory for this outcome.

However, I don’t think the focus should just be on our youth who are interested in entering the military. As a recently retired teacher, I feel strongly that all of our youth should be better prepared for the future and develop the tools to win “the war of life.” All children must be taught about our nation’s history and our Bill of Rights, which, in my opinion, are slowly being taken away or being abused. Our young people don’t truly understand how perilous the world is today. They take their freedom for granted and aren’t being trained intellectually to protect and preserve it. I have witnessed this first hand as an educator. Unlike many of my co-workers, I chose not to ignore the importance of teaching our history.Luckily for me, I had the support of great parents who appreciated my passion for teaching all subjects to all students of varied abilities. We must come together as a nation for all these dreams to come true. Thanks for fighting the good fight everyday. We need more warriors like you. Stay well and curious.

Ernest R Williams
2 months ago

As an old soldier I will be damned if I would allow some creep staring at me in the showers and wearing panties. In my old army days, we kicked out the creeps on a section 8 discharge (MENTAL)

Jeff Bloch
2 months ago

The best way to ensure that the CCP can take over America is to weaken the military services so that they are incapable of mounting an effective defense or go on the offensive. This is all part of their plan.

Patriot Will
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Bloch

Jeff Bloch understands that our military should be mentally and physically tough to effectively fight battles and win wars. Those military leaders that are weakening our soldering to be more woke are increasing the odds that our enemies will win against the USA, should war break out. It’s bad enough that an unethical politician like Biden would actively damage our readiness to engage in battle; but for the military brass to go along with this dysfunction is way over the top. Tragically, it appears that many of our military leaders are better at being politicians than being honorable soldiers.

2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Bloch

To whom are you referring when you say “their” plan? If you’re referring to the Dimocrats and their political (as opposed to military) officers, I agree hardily. I had a most unusual military “career” having served 8 1/2 years with the US Army and NATO Forces and saw many officers of both kinds.

David Millikan
2 months ago


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