- - Monday, January 6, 2014

The front-page article “Pentagon pivots to social issues” (Jan. 2) got it wrong. The military is not “pivoting” to social issues; there is no “agenda for the battle of the sexes,” and, contrary to the comments of at least one of the people reporter Rowan Scarborough quotes, we’ve never stopped concerning ourselves with how to fight and win the nation’s wars.

Fighting and winning is our job. We take it seriously, and we believe a big part — in fact, the biggest part — of doing that job well is having trained, capable and talented people in uniform. Your readers need look no further than where and how we deploy our troops to see the truth in that. The men and women of the U.S. military remain very much in harm’s way and very much in demand.

Now, we could try to recruit and retain those men and women by limiting their opportunities to serve and by restricting their ability to care for their families, but that seems a bit counterproductive. So we choose to do it by making sure qualified individuals have the chance to serve fairly, equally and in accordance with the law.

There’s no sinister attempt to “socially engineer” the military. There’s just an honest effort to ensure the all-volunteer force encourages people to want to continue serving, to continue volunteering. Some say focusing on “social” issues detracts from that readiness. We believe that focusing on issues important to our people and their families preserves it. More than that, it’s the right thing to do.

REAR ADM. JOHN F. KIRBY
U.S. Navy
Pentagon press secretary
Washington