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The Next Republican President Must Fix the Military First

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds, File

I was there when the United States military was great, when it inspired fear instead of laughter, when it smashed whole armies in a hundred hours instead of letting a bunch of seventh-century freaks drive it out of a country that would have to work up to join the Third World. The American armed forces had a culture of winning then; it now has a culture of not only losing but of turning on its own, destroying itself through social justice nonsense, and rejecting the warrior ethos. Predictably, the normal, patriotic Americans who traditionally answer the call to the colors are refusing to sign onto an organization that hates them. Unless the boys, girls, and non-binaries of Santa Monica, the Hamptons, and the Gender Studies Department at Wellesley are going to enlist en masse to make up the growing recruiting/retention deficit, we need a military culture that is friendly to the traditional warrior pool of rural and middle America. 


My new book, "We'll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America," talks about the pinnacle of American power and chronicles the collapse into the sorry state we are in today. It's a harrowing ride, but the good news is that our broken military culture can be fixed very quickly by the next based GOP president. In fact, it must be fixed – the defense of the nation is the federal government's number one responsibility – and it must be fixed first. 

Fixing it is a key test of the next Republican president's ability to overhaul the entire federal bureaucracy. A quick fix of our military culture will put a check mark in the "win" column early on for the new administration and set the tone and tenor for the reform of the rest of the federal government. But a smart president will have run for election promising to do just this – that way, he can honestly claim that he has a mandate when the haters and hacks try to take him off-mission. To reject his program would be an attack on Our Democracy™! 

The key to it is a dedicated conservative president who makes doing this a priority. This fight will cost him media scorn, but that's okay because he'll be trashed no matter what he does. We already know what's coming. If he's not Trump, he'll be worse than Trump. This fight will cost him some political capital because the Pentagon will squeal, and it has lots of friends in Congress and industry. But fixing the broken culture does not need Congress or industry buy-in. The president is the commander-in-chief. He just needs to command.

And he needs to dedicate his most important and scarce resource to doing it – his time. The president needs to make clear to his chief-of-staff that he is spending, say, 60 minutes a day on his military cultural reform project and that this time is sacrosanct, untouchable, sacred. Of course, this implies a COS who is reading off of the president's agenda, not his own. So he better have the right guy going in. Gee, I wonder if Ambassador Robert O'Brien is busy in 2025…? 


The next key factors are a laser focus on his objectives and the willingness to exercise his power as commander-in-chief to attain them. Power is useless if not used. 

It would be helpful, but not mandatory, if the next president had military experience. But at a minimum, he must not have or be rid of any lingering awe of generals and admirals. Donald Trump was initially impressed by flag officers and their shiny badges and bright ribbons. They all screwed him over. The proper attitude toward flag officers is that they are fungible, that they are tools for the execution of the president's intent, and that if they are not executing his intent, they must be immediately discarded in such a manner as to demonstrate that a failure to adhere to the CINC's intent will not be tolerated. Ancient Carthage used to crucify failed generals. This was tough but fair. The president need only publicly relieve our modern generals for incompetence.

The president's objective must be to reorient the United States military into a war-fighting organization that welcomes and celebrates the normal Americans who have traditionally filled its ranks. What does this mean? As my new book, "We'll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America," describes in detail, the military has morphed from the disciplined combat-focused force that brough us the spectacular victory in Desert Storm into a demoralized social program with tanks that has failed to win an unequivocal major victory in three decades. Morale is rock-bottom, non-toxic senior leadership is non-existent, and the Obama/Biden generals/admirals have created an organization so hateful to normal Americans that it cannot meet its recruitment goals. No traditional American joins the military to become a vaccine guinea pig who spends more time training about pronouns than on how to keep his ship from crashing into another vessel and be sent off to defend every country's borders but his own. 


Soldiers do what commanders check. If a commander checks wokeness, you get a woke force. But if he checks combat readiness, you get a winning force. 

Inauguration Day is Pink Slip Day – every joint chief is relieved. Gone. Dismissed. Doin' the duffel bag drag. And the president must explain why he is firing them. Messaging this process to the American people is key. He will have promised to clean up the military during his campaign and he must explain that he is keeping that promise: 

"Today, I fired all of the joint chiefs for failing to perform adequately. Their replacements have already been identified and will assume their positions as acting chairmen pending confirmation by the Senate. I told you I would fix our military, and bringing in new blood is the first step to doing that." 

The service chief replacements need not be the next guy in line. There is no reason not to bypass all the four and three-stars to get a solid two-star or to bring back a retired officer. A wise future president's team should already be identifying potential future leaders for January 2025, and lots of us vets are ready to help. And if he really wants to shake the Pentagon to its rotten foundations, a reservist should be in the running to replace the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – reservists tend to bring civilian world experience and perspective that guys who have been in 35 years just do not have, and they tend to serve because they want to, not because it is their sole career.

The commander-in-chief must command. Flash forward to the first Monday of his administration, at 0900 hours in the Oval Office as the new joint chiefs sit with notebooks ready…

"Gentlemen, this is an orders briefing, not a decision briefing, meaning I am not asking for your input. I am telling you my intent, so be sure you understand it before you walk out of this room because Friday at 0900 we meet here for you to tell me – your Commander-in-Chief – how you have fulfilled my intent. If your answer is anything but an honest, 'Yes, sir, I have fulfilled your orders,' I will relieve you. Effective now, we are out of the diversity, inclusion, and equity business. It's over. Finished. Done. Every DIE program is terminated. Every Norwegian History Month or the like is ended. There are no more DIE classes, training, or any of this woke garbage. There are no drag queens on base and no men wearing women's uniforms. It all ends. Make sure the curricula at the academies and wear colleges are scrubbed of this poison. Make sure no officer reading lists includes racists like Ibram X. Kendi. The nonsense is terminated starting now. Oh, and you will strike any reference to 'white nationalism' and 'climate change' from any documents that presumes to list the strategic threats the United States military is facing. Do each of you understand my intent? Be here at 0900 Friday to confirm you have executed my orders. Dismissed." 


Now, some four-star will come back with something other than "It's done, sir." There's always one knucklehead in every orders group. He gets relieved and is directed not to retire pending an examination of whether he adequately performed at his final rank. If not – and insubordination indicates the negative – he will be retired at a lesser rank than O-10. If you want to focus the brass's collective attention marvelously, fiddle with their rank and pensions. The president need only do this a couple of times before he establishes his dominance. 

The media will cry. The blue checks will howl. We will see stories of soldiers beside themselves because wokeness has been vanquished. Oh well. The proper use of power is the use of power. The president must use his power to demonstrate the new direction. And the majority of the troops will be thrilled. They did not sign up to work in a camouflaged UC Berkeley.

There will be resistance, which is why the president must have a political team in support of his initiative to handle messaging and detect any resistance so it can be crushed. One tactic is monitoring media and social media for stories that can create teaching moments. Say, some chaplain at Elmendorf Air Force base is told by some senior officer that he can't say "Jesus" because it is "non-inclusive" (which could totally happen). Great. At 0900 in two days, the entire chain of command from the SecDef (who needs to be in on the plan) down to the chaplain's supervisor convenes in the Oval Office to brief the CINC on how this outrage is getting unscrewed in order to support the CINC's intent. Firings follow. 

A couple of rounds of all-hands ass-chewings and the word gets out – the CINC is watching and he's dead serious. Next, the president needs to visit bases, dismiss the flag officers, and talk one-on-one to troops and NCOs to get the real story – and, crucially, to show the troops he is listening. Again, this must be messaged. His team needs to find and arrange high-impact actions that underscore his narrative. For example, there was recently a housing scandal at Walter Reed where enlisted troops lived for months without hot water because the command failed to get it fixed. The president's media team could spot something like that and the president could then announce he's driving there the next day, turning a tap, and if anything but hot water flows out a bunch of admirals is getting cashiered. The new GOP president must leverage his power and position to set the narrative with potent teaching moments! 


He must ruthlessly purge the social justice poison and recreate the combat readiness mindset. Morale will do a 180 in a couple of months, and that's points on the board for a new president, as well as setting the stage for further military reforms (acquisitions, we're looking at you!). Right now, generals, admirals, and senior defense bureaucrats can offer excuses instead of achievements. The secret is to tolerate no excuses – we don't from privates so why do we tolerate them from generals and admirals? Make it clear – get it done or get out.

And the president should set a box on the Resolute Desk. Any general or admiral who does not like the mandate the people gave the president can deposit his stars in the box and go off into the civilian world. In the revitalized military, only warriors will need apply. And to revitalize our military will require our next Republican president to apply some combat boot to some ass. 

Conservatives Must Stand Together and Fight Back Against the Radical Left Looking to Destroy Our Great Country. Join Townhall VIP and Support Our ReportingAnd Check Out Last Week's Stream of Kurtiousness, Democrats Are in a Tailspin. And my podcast, Unredacted.

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