A key congressional supporter of Donald Trump says the president-elect’s defense secretary should move quickly to reverse a number of social engineering policies adopted in the Obama years that “have cut down on the warrior mentality.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, told The Washington Times that the armed forces need a counterrevolution. It should reverse at least three policies: women in the infantry, open transgender troops and the near-banishment of the word “man” from Navy and Marine Corps titles.
Mr. Hunter, a high-profile member of House Armed Services Committee, was one of the first in Congress to back Mr. Trump. He co-chaired the New York real estate magnate’s congressional leadership committee and promoted Mr. Trump in op-eds and media interviews.
The Trump transition team is considering Mr. Hunter for Navy secretary or even secretary of defense, a huge steppingstone for a 39-year-old former Marine Corps major.
Here is Mr. Hunter’s Pentagon agenda:
• Reverse the December decision by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to open direct land combat jobs in the infantry and special operations to women.
Mr. Hunter said Mr. Trump should follow the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Gen. Dunford was the Marine commandant when he recommended continuing the gender ban for infantry and special operations forces, citing Corps studies that show mixed-sex units are inferior to all-male. Mr. Carter and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus rejected his advice.
“Chairman Dunford has been in multiple combat tours,” Mr. Hunter said. “Probably the smartest person in the military, period, and he said leave special ops and infantry out of it. What’s happening now is, again, we’re taking our eyes off the ball and going down on theses side roads.”
The Army and Marines are in the early stages of trying to mold women into the infantry. No woman has applied to be a Navy SEAL, and one failed at becoming a Green Beret.
“It doesn’t do anything to further our capacity as war fighters,” Mr. Hunter said of adding women in direct land combat roles. “It doesn’t do anything to make us more effective or efficient at getting the job done and killing our enemies and protecting our allies. It’s just a distraction. It’s not like there are thousands of women getting into the infantry now. It will never be that way.”
• Nullify the June 30 decision to open the ranks to transgender service members and fund their sex-change procedures.
The Pentagon issued a detailed transgender manual that dictates the responsibilities of medical staff and commanders to shepherd troops through the counseling and medical process.
“Ridiculous,” Mr. Hunter said. “Overturn it immediately because it doesn’t make any sense. How does that help you fight and win wars? That’s what I think Trump is going to bring to this — some common sense. Period.”
“Having transgender operations paid for by the U.S. taxpayer is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of because it doesn’t do anything to help America project power or to fight and win its wars. Nothing. There’s no upside to it whatsoever,” the congressman said.
• Overturn the liberal agenda of Mr. Mabus, a Democrat and former governor of Mississippi.
In particular, Mr. Hunter said, the Trump team should revoke Mr. Mabus’ September order to remove historic job descriptions, such as hospital corpsman and yeoman, from Navy enlisted ratings. Mr. Mabus also removed the word “man” from titles, though he left the rating “seaman” for the bottom three enlisted ranks.
Under Mr. Mabus’ edict, the Marine Corps also ditched the title of “man,” converting infantryman to infantry Marine.
“It’s the politicization of the Navy and trying to chip away at the war-fighting mentality,” Mr. Hunter said. “Liberals like Ray Mabus are offended by the war-fighter mentality. You can call it ‘manliness.’ You can call it ‘roughneck,’ kind of people who fight America’s wars. I think they offend liberal sensibility, the liberal sensibilities of the Obama administration and Mabus in particular.”
• Ship naming.
Mr. Hunter also has been a persistent critic of Mr. Mabus’ theme of naming warships after liberal Democratic activists, such as farm labor leader Cesar Chavez and gay rights advocate Harvey Milk. He said it is not too late to remove those names in favor of naval combatants or trailblazers.
“There are a lot of great people you can name ships after that would give the sailor pride to sail on that ship. Harvey Milk isn’t one of them,” Mr. Hunter said.
“Why not go the Medal of Honor route?” he said. “If they are going to break tradition, why not go, ‘OK, we’re going to name them all after war fighters or great sailors or great leaders within the Navy or great explorers — people that had an impact when it comes to ocean-going?’ There’s plenty of people to name ships after.”
The Obama administration defends its emphasis on social change in the ranks.
Navy sailors expressed outrage at losing their special job designations. But Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, said sailors now can multitask and better prepare for civilian life.
“This buys you a tremendous amount of flexibility, not only in assignments, but in advancement. This will give you the opportunity to advance in more than one specialty,” he said, according to the Navy Times.
In announcing the transgender decision in June, Mr. Carter said, “The first and fundamental reason is that the Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now: the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”
Mr. Trump, who has courted the homosexual and female vote, presumedly would meet a backlash from feminists and gay rights groups if he rolls back the Obama policies.
Mr. Hunter has carved out a unique mission as the defender of service members he believes have been wronged. As examples, he publicly defended a Green Beret who roughed up an Afghan police chief for sexually abusing a boy, as well as an Army officer who bucked the bureaucracy over its lack of hostage rescue policy. The Army targeted both men for discipline.
Mr. Hunter, the son of an Army veteran and a former Armed Services Committee chairman, Duncan Lee Hunter, may face a decision soon on whether he wants to remain a defender of whistleblowers and aggrieved combatants or join the Trump administration.
“I like what I’m doing,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot accomplished in Congress. We’ve helped a lot of people. We don’t turn anyone away, no matter their district. We take pride in that. All the guys who we have helped who were going to be kicked out of the Army — no one else was going to help them. Even as Navy secretary, I couldn’t do anything about these cases.”
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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