Matt Gaetz and defense secretary argue over US military capability and ‘wokeism’


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Rep. Matt Gaetz got into a heated argument during Tuesday’s House Armed Services hearing after the Florida Republican accused the Pentagon of being too focused on “wokeism” and not defense.

Austin charged that Gaetz appeared to be “embarrassed for his country” by questioning the US military’s capability, and the two men shouted over one another at several points.

“This is the most capable, most combat critical force in the world, it has been and it will be so going forward, and this budget helps us to do that,” Austin said.

“Not if we continue down this path. Not if we continue to embrace socialism,” Gaetz charged.

“The fact that you’re embarrassed by your country, by your military. I’m sorry for that,” Austin shot back.

“Oh no, I’m embarrassed for your leadership,” Gaetz responded. “I am not embarrassed for my country.”

Gaetz began his remarks by pointing to a lecture from National Defense University on socialism, before arguing that the US military had fallen behind China on hypersonic weapons.

“What do you mean? We’re behind in hypersonics? How do you make that assessment?” Austin responded to Gaetz.

“Your own people brief us that we’re behind and China is winning,” Gaetz responded.

CNN reported Monday that the US successfully tested a hypersonic missile in mid-March but kept it quiet for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia as President Joe Biden was about to travel to Europe, according to a defense official familiar with the matter.

One month after the first successful test, the US suffered a setback when the test of a different hypersonic system failed. The failure came just as reports emerged that China had successfully tested a hypersonic glide vehicle over the summer and shortly after Russia claimed to have successfully tested its submarine-launched hypersonic missile, dubbed the Tsirkon.

Gaetz went on to say that the Pentagon “got it wrong” by predicting that Russia would overrun Ukraine within days and that the Taliban would not take control of Afghanistan last year.

“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,” Gaetz said.

“Has it occurred to you that Russia has not overrun Ukraine because of what we’ve done and what our allies have done? Have you ever even thought about that?” Austin asked.

Gaetz has previously tangled with Pentagon leaders at congressional hearings over culture issues like critical race theory in the military.


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