A rare thing happened Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
On Sept. 19, very quietly, the Pentagon reversed its asinine gender-neutral pronoun rule for certain award citations that my colleague Dakota Wood and I exposed on Sept. 1. Without any fanfare—no doubt in an attempt to put this entire sordid affair behind it—the Pentagon simply posted “Change 6” to the Manual of Military Decorations and Awards.
But for The Heritage Foundation exposing this issue of wokeness on steroids, all military awards and citations would have required the androgynous, grammatically incorrect pronoun “themself” instead of the standard “himself” or “herself.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news and commentary outlet.)
This seemingly minor policy change was and is emblematic of deeper issues within the Pentagon affecting lethality, unit cohesion, recruitment, and retention.
Let’s rewind the tape.
On Aug. 7, during the summer doldrums, the Pentagon quietly published a change to the Manual of Military Decorations and Awards for the six most prestigious joint service awards. Change 5 required the use of “gender neutral” pronouns for the six awards.
In the last week of August, the Office of the Secretary of Defense returned the draft citation for the end-of-tour award for none other than the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff himself, four-star Army Gen. Mark Milley.
It turned out that because of Change 5, Milley’s citation as drafted needed to be fixed; it had to use the pronoun “themself” instead of “him.”
Change 5 included draft language for awards, such as this (emphasis added):
Superior Meritorious Service (e.g., PCS and Retirement awards): (Rank) First M. Last, Jr., United States (Military Service), distinguished themself by superior meritorious service in a position of significant responsibility as (position and duty assignment), from (month year) to (month year).
In late August, a source in the Pentagon told us about this outrageous incident.
On Sept. 1, we broke the news on this story.
That same day, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., a former U.S. Marine intelligence officer, tweeted his objection to Change 5.
On Sept. 8, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., wrote a public letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, which both poked fun at the Pentagon’s misguided priorities and demanded answers to some very legitimate questions.
Cotton addressed the letter “Dear Mr. Secretary,” with the footnote reading, “If I may be so bold as to assume your ‘preferred gender.’” The senator’s use of humor is appropriate, as the new policy would be laughable if it weren’t such a damning indictment of the state of the Pentagon’s leadership.
He went on to inquire about the origins of the policy, asking:
- Did you personally approve the change? If not, when did you learn of it?
- Under the new change, can service members request the use of the male or female pronoun on their award citations and at promotion and retirement ceremonies? How will those requests be treated?
- What other official documentation with DOD requires gender-neutral language?
Cotton demanded answers to his questions by Sept. 15.
On Sept. 12, a Pentagon spokesperson told a news outlet that the Department of Defense wanted to “clarify” that Change 5 “would not prevent” the use of the pronouns “himself” or “herself.”
On Sept. 15, we blasted the Pentagon again in another article, noting that the “clarification” only made matters worse, as it confirmed that the default pronoun was “themself.” In addition to the questions Cotton asked, which had not been answered as of his Sept. 15 deadline, we posed some of our own:
- To whom would service members need to submit a request for gendered pronouns to be used in their award ceremony? Can those requests be denied?
- Who decided to keep Change 5 and issue a clarification? Did the secretary of defense approve of keeping Change 5?
- Were there any communications between the White House, or those acting on behalf of the White House, in advance of this change being implemented in the first place? If so, what were those communications, with whom, and when?
- Did the chairman or vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff approve of Change 5? If so, when? If not, why was the change made nonetheless?
Instead of answering Cotton’s questions or ours, the Pentagon simply issued Change 6, retracting “themself” and the requirement that joint awards use “gender neutral” language and reinserted the correct pronouns “himself” and “herself.”
As we stated in our last article, the Pentagon did this on purpose. It only reversed course because we exposed it.
Cotton, in an exclusive to The Daily Signal, said, “This was no mistake—the administration has been trying to woke-ify the military since Joe Biden took office. They got caught this time and reversed course, but the Department of Defense should never have adopted this absurd left-wing terminology in the first place.”
Turns out that in this case, Justice Louis Brandeis was right when he said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
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