Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) unloaded on Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during Tuesday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing, saying he was “embarrassed” by the senior military official’s leadership.
Gaetz mentioned the requested military budget — some $773 billion — and suggested that perhaps that money ought to be used to take corrective actions after what he argued was a series of “blown calls” made by military leadership in recent months.
BREAKING@SecDef: "The fact that you're embarrassed by your country. I’m sorry for that."
Gaetz: “I'm embarrassed by YOUR leadership! I’m not embarrassed for my country. It's disgraceful that you would sit here & conflate your failures with those of uniformed service members.” pic.twitter.com/mUfRNbY8Rt
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) April 5, 2022
“You guys have been blowing a lot of calls lately on matters of strategy, Mr. Secretary. You guys told us that Russia couldn’t lose, you told us the Taliban couldn’t immediately win, and so I guess I’m wondering, what in the $773 billion that you’re requesting today is going to help you make assessments that are accurate in the face of so many blown calls?” Gaetz asked.
“You’ve seen what’s in our budget. You’ve seen how the budget matches the strategy and so I’ll let that speak for itself,” Austin replied.
Gaetz continued to push and Austin pushed back, as the two continued to talk over each other.
“We’re behind in hypersonics, we failed to deter Russia. Last year, China —” Gaetz added, and Austin interrupted to ask what Gaetz thought would be the best way to evaluate “hypersonics.”
“You’re own people brief us that we are behind and China is winning. Are you aware of the briefings we get on hypersonics?” Gaetz asked, prompting a visibly annoyed Austin to reply, “I’m certainly aware of briefings we give to Congress.”
Gaetz then pivoted to address the military’s recent focus on social issues, suggesting that woke culture was distracting from more important things like strategy, saying, “We got time to embrace Critical Race Theory at West Point, to embrace socialism at the National Defense University, to do mandatory pronoun training —”
“Again, this is the most capable, this is the most combat critical force in the world. It has been so, and it will be so going forward,” Austin pushed back, and Gaetz responded, “Not if we continue down this path. Not if we embrace socialism.”
“The fact that you’re embarrassed by your country? I’m sorry for that,” Austin said then, but Gaetz interrupted.
“I’m embarrassed by your leadership! I’m not embarrassed for my country,” he said. “I wish we were not losing to China … that is so disgraceful that you would sit here and conflate your failures with the failures of the uniformed service members.”
Gaetz turned his attention once more to what he said were the military leadership’s “blown calls,” concluding, “You guys said that Russia would overrun Ukraine in 36 days, you said the Taliban would be kept at bay for months, you totally blew those calls and maybe we would be better at them if the National Defense University actually worked a little more on strategy and a little less on wokeism.”