WASHINGTON—The National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness (NIPMSR) met to discuss its new polling data on perceptions of both active members and civilians on polarizing topics and policies in the military. The eight-person panel led by Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL) was commissioned by Heritage President Kevin Roberts to evaluate personnel policies and practices that are polarizing within the Department of Defense.
New polling data show 68 percent of active military members have witnessed politicization in the military and 65 percent of active-duty military members are somewhat or very concerned about this development. Events that have decreased the trust active-duty members have in the military include the changing policy to allow unrestricted service by transgender individuals (80%), the reduction of physical fitness standards to “even the playing field” (70%), and a focus on climate change as a top national security threat (70%).
Heritage’s Executive Vice President, Derrick Morgan, opened the second meeting, explaining “the timing for the panel could not be more important given that fiscal year 2022 was the worst year for recruiting since the advent of the all-volunteer force, and 2023 is shaping up to be as bad or worse.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee and a combat-decorated Green Beret, is the chairman of the panel, and states,
“It’s more clear than ever that Americans are losing faith in what should be America’s most trusted institution and the current recruitment crisis facing our military is evidence of that. The Pentagon should be focused on winning America’s future wars rather than prioritizing divisive programs and issues. The Pentagon should be focused on how best to counter our global adversaries like China and recruiting the best and brightest to our ranks.”
Panel member Mike Berry, Vice President of External Affairs, Director of Military Affairs and Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute, reacted to the polling,
“These alarming poll results confirm what many have long suspected. Our military is further adrift than ever and risks becoming completely unmoored from its national security role. NIPMSR and its work is timely and vital to ensuring our armed forces remain fully capable and ready to defend America and her interests."
Panel member Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the director of its Keystone Defense Initiative, responded to the polling data,
“Americans are entering a perilous era where China and Russia are collaborating to end the U.S.-led era of peace, freedom, and prosperity. To provide for the common defense, the U.S. government must be more committed to defending our security and way of life than our enemies are to threatening it. And we owe our all-volunteer fighting force excellence in leadership, training, and equipment. This poll is another warning shot to policymakers that we are failing our troops by allowing political activism to deprive them of the focus and high training standards they deserve to fight and win. We can fix this before it’s too late and we must.”
NIPMSR continues to gather data and develop recommendations to guide policymakers that look to strengthen the U.S. military and improve its readiness. The Panel anticipates publishing its final report in March 2023.