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Defense Secretary Austin responds to criticism about 'woke' recruiting, says military not 'soft'

Austin also said he won't "lose one minute of sleep" over what China, Russia are doing.

Updated: May 31, 2021 - 1:08pm

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is deflecting criticism by GOP lawmakers, conservatives and others that the U.S. military's latest efforts to be inclusive and attract a more diverse force is weakening America's security.

Austin made the comments in a CNN interview aired Memorial Day in which he also suggested he wasn’t concerned about what the leaders of China and Russia are doing.

"I will not lose one minute of sleep about what the Chinese leadership is saying or what (Russian President) Vladimir Putin is saying," Austin said. “What I will focus on, and what I am focused on is the defense of this nation, and making sure that we have what's needed to be successful."

The Army earlier this month started putting out recruiting ads to appeal to younger recruits that feature the stories of five soldiers about their service. 

The series is a "distinct departure from previous Army campaigns," given its use of animation and "intimate" portrayals and turns "what was once a one-dimensional view of Army service into something more relatable," the Army said in a release.

"Holy crap, perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea," responded Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz. "We have the greatest military on earth, but Dem politicians & woke media are trying to turn them into pansies.” 

Austin also told CNN on Monday the U.S. military will never be "soft." 

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