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Argument over ‘woke-ism’ in the military erupts in House hearing

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In a heated exchange, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., accused the Biden administration of starving America’s military by wasting time on “woke-ism,” telling Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the U.S. military is behind on hypersonic weapons, strategy and more.

Austin, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, testified Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee on the fiscal 2023 budget request. President Joe Biden’s budget plan for 2023 includes $773 billion for defense spending, and Republicans have said that is not enough.

Austin defended the budget, calling America’s military the most capable combat force in the world.

A heated exchange between Rep. Matt Gaetz and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on April 5, 2022. (CSPAN)

Gaetz questioned Austin’s leadership, at times speaking over Austin, asking how the Pentagon will use the funding to make more accurate assessments, pointing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Taliban takeover when U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

The heated exchange included discussion of inaccurate intelligence assessments of foreign militaries. Gaetz pointed to the Department of Defense’s overestimation of Russia’s capability to invade Ukraine.

“You guys said that Russia would overrun Ukraine in 36 days,” Gaetz said.

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

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