“We are losing in the military so fast. Our readiness in terms of recruitment. And why? I’ll tell you why, because the Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda, as [President] Joe Biden‘s agenda,” Tuberville told WBHM. “So if we want to talk about looking weak, that’s where we’re going to look weak. We cannot start putting rules in there for one type, one group and make different factions in the military, because that is the most important institution in the United States of America, and our allies, is a strong, hard-nosed, killing machine, which is called our military.”
In a statement sent to AL.com on Wednesday, Tuberville’s office clarified the remarks, saying: “Sen. Tuberville’s quote that is cited shows that he was being skeptical of the notion that there are white nationalists in the military, not that he believes they should be in the military … He believes the men and women in uniform are patriots. [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin seems to think otherwise, subjecting them to extremism training as his very first act in office. That cost us four million man hours.”
Tuberville’s comments arrived as he continues to protest promotions in the military, criticizing Austin’s abortion-related policies in the DoD.
“I’m holding DoD nominations because the secretary of defense is trying to push through a massive expansion of taxpayer-subsidized abortions—without going through this body. Without going through Congress,” Tuberville said in March. “Three months ago, I informed Secretary Austin that if he tried to turn the DoD into an abortion travel agency, I would place a hold on all civilian, flag and general officer nominees.”
Pentagon policy covers out-of-state travel costs for service members wanting an abortion if their base is in a state that bans the procedure.
Tuberville is not the only elected official to criticize Austin and comment on military promotions. In 2021, Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton questioned Austin, saying his office had received complaints from military members who said they were required to take “police brutality, white privilege and systemic racism” training sessions.
“We’re hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations, based on these trainings alone,” Cotton said in 2021, according to The New York Times.
This year, Missouri Republican Senator Eric Schmitt also criticized Austin and training exercises required in the military, saying that they wasted millions of manhours, the New York Post reported.
Tuberville’s spokesperson declined further comment after Newsweek reached out via email.
In response to Tuberville’s criticism of Austin, the defense secretary published a letter this month, saying that the holds on military promotions are “irresponsible.”
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