Senior military leaders have condemned viral comments made by Tucker Carlson on his show about women in uniform. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shares the “revulsion” many senior leaders have expressed about the monologue.
Carlson said during his show on Tuesday that new grooming standards and inclusive military uniforms for women were making a mockery of the U.S. military. In a monologue, Carlson said China’s military has become “more masculine,” while “our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine.”
On Monday, International Women’s Day, President Joe Biden introduced the nominees for combatant commands who would be the second and third women to ever lead combatant commands. He spoke about the measures the military is taking like updating grooming standards, like allowing short ponytails, to make the environment for all forces more inclusive.
Carlson called these measures a “mockery of the U.S. military.”
Kirby said Thursday “what we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host or the Chinese military.”
Kirby was asked if Carlson should apologize, and Kirby said he hopes Carlson realizes the mistake he has made in the comments that “essentially demeaned the entire U.S. military and how we defend and serve this country.”
Carlson responded with a nine-minute monologue on Thursday night, saying “the Department of Defense launched a large and coordinated public relations offensive against this show.”
“Since when does the Pentagon declare war on a domestic news operation? Can’t remember that ever happening,” Carlson said.
Other senior members of the U.S. military weighed in on Thursday to Carlson’s comments. In one viral clip, U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Scott Stalker, the Senior Enlisted Leader of United States Space Command, said that Carlson’s opinion is “based off actually of zero days in the armed services.” He also called on the military to “get back to work” and said “let’s remember those opinions were made by an individual who has never served a day in his life.”
“Let me offer you my opinion, my opinion is based off of 28 years of actual service in the military, 28 years in the Marine Corps and combat operations out at sea and at Garrison,” he said. “And so he was talking specifically about pregnant women in the armed forces today and how it makes us less lethal and less fit and less ready. Let me tell you how he’s wrong. Those decisions were made by medical professionals, by commanders and our civilian leadership that allows for women to have more time with their children, to recuperate, to get fit and ready, to take that time that is necessary that our medical professionals know is needed, which actually makes us a more lethal and ready and fit force. Ready to fit the wars of today and tomorrow.”
On Twitter, the U.S. Army did not directly respond to Carlson’s comments, but posted an image of a woman in uniform with the caption “I am an American soldier. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit.”
Numerous female veterans responded to Carlson’s comments on Twitter, including Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, who was one of the first women in the Army to fly combat missions during the Iraq War.
“F*** Tucker Carlson,” Duckworth tweeted from her campaign account.
While deployed to Iraq in 2004, Duckworth was piloting a helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). Duckworth lost both of her legs and partial use of her right arm in the incident.
“While he was practicing his two-step, America’s female warriors were hunting down Al Qaeda and proving the strength of America’s women,” Duckworth tweeted, referencing Carlson’s appearance on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” in 2006. “Happy belated international Women’s Day to everyone but Tucker, who even I can dance better than.”
Twitter user Heather Tregle, who, according to her bio is an Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer, said that being a mom while serving “does not make a mockery of the military.”
“I’ve had 2 children while serving in the Army, deployed to 2 combat zones, advised commanders at home & in war, and graduated from the Naval War College,” she said. “I can assure you, my presence does not make a mockery of the military. If you’re looking for a mockery, look in the mirror.”
Another individual tweeted that his comments “majorly irked” her, and used the opportunity to post a photo of herself from October 1999, when she was at Army basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
General Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, did not directly reference Carlson, but instead tweeted about the “kick-ass” female Air Force members who have served.
“There are nearly 70K qualified, kick-ass female #USAF #Airmen,” Van Ovost tweeted. “For years we have evolved and will continue to evolve, shedding antiquated policies preventing ANY woman from reaching their full potential.”
“Inclusion is our strength,” the general tweeted, “it’ll be the difference between winning & losing.”
Van Ovost is Mr. Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Transportation Command. When announcing Van Ovost and his pick for US Southern Command, Lieutenant General Laura Richardson, Mr. Biden said, “We need little girls and boys both, who have grown up dreaming of serving for their country, to know this is what generals in the United States Armed Forces look like.”