Pete Hegseth joined the Army in 2001 to combat extremism. He fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and was awarded two Bronze Stars. But, as the “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host writes in his new book, “The War on Warriors: Behind the Betrayal of the Men and Women Who Keep Us Free” (June 4, Broadside Books), he’s now considered an unwelcome extremist by the military he once served. In the name of diversity and social justice, the woke elites running our armed forces have lowered standards and alienated the brave young patriots who once ably protected America and its allies. “They believe power is bad, merit is unfair, ideology is more important than industriousness, white people are yesterday, and safety is better than risk-taking,” he writes. “However, our enemies still understand that a soldier needs to be powerful, skilled, and courageous.” Here, an excerpt:

Normal dudes have always fought, and won, our wars. Prove me wrong.

Picture this: an 18-year-old man. Lean, muscular, muddy pants on a tractor with an American flag hat on and a cross tattoo on his forearm. Democrats immediately think “white rural rage.” Republicans think, “I hope an illegal doesn’t drive down his future wages.” 

“Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth joined the Army in 2001 to combat extremism. Robert Milazzo

Both ought to be thinking, “This is the guy who saved us in every war since the Founding and will eventually save us again.”

After years of soft and sideways recruiting messaging, the United States Army has recently started producing television commercials that feature mostly white men (gasp!) doing tough things and taking risks.

They’re the type of masculine ads that actually tap into the sense of honor and heroism that healthy young men aspire to. My phone was quickly inundated with text messages from veterans with one message: Must be time to go to war again!

Of course we can’t wait to recruit our largest and most important military demographic until a crisis occurs. But that’s just what Biden’s woke policies have done. For the past three years — after President Barack Obama poured the social justice foundation — the Pentagon, across all branches, has embraced the social justice messages of gender equity, racial diversity, climate stupidity, and the LGBTQA+ alphabet soup in their recruiting pushes.

Only one problem: There just aren’t enough lesbians from San Francisco who want to join the 82nd Airborne. Not only do the lesbians not join, but those very same ads turn off the young, patriotic, Christian men who have traditionally filled our ranks.

On the front end, a social justice military fails to recruit the masculine men who make up our warrior class. This is self-evident. My high school, in mostly rural, blue-collar Minnesota, produced some great warriors— tough-as-nails, football-playing studs who were looking for their next manly pursuit.

Hegseth’s new book is “The War on Warriors: Behind the Betrayal of the Men and Women Who Keep Us Free.”

One of my friends joined the Marines, another the Army Rangers — later wounded and decorated in battle. They were high school boys, who — at that time — saw the patriotic, tough, masculine messaging of Marine Corps and Army advertisements and said, “Hell yeah, I want to do that.” In both of their cases, the military took raw, possibly “toxic” masculine men and created trained, disciplined, honorable masculine men. Who knows what the untrained and unconstrained world would have made of these alpha males, but the military made great warriors — and now great citizens.

A woke military also fails to recruit the not-so-masculine men who, after proper discipline and training, become the masculine men our military needs. These make up a large swath of young men who don’t come from military families but love the country.

In some ways, I fall into this category. I wanted to “be all that I can be” but knew nothing of military life. This category brings to mind two other high school friends. Neither played sports, neither was particularly tough or “cool.” But they came from good, patriotic, Christian families, and went to basic training after high school.

Call it duty, or a challenge, but they stepped up. One of those men just retired after 20 years as one of the Air Force’s top jump-masters. The other is still a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. They went from weak and timid to tough and disciplined. A social justice-oriented military probably would have recruited neither of them.

“A social justice military fails to recruit the masculine men who make up our warrior class,” Hegseth writes. Christopher Sadowski

The military cannot be organized like a Harvard fraternity, catering to ever-more-obscure constituencies. Our key constituency is normal men, looking to be heroes and not victims. We aren’t a collection of aggrieved tribes. Equality is our bedrock, lethality our trademark. There is no black and white in our ranks. We are all green. Our strength is not in our diversity, but in our unity and in our love for each other, our families, and, most of all, our nation. This is a truth I have lived firsthand in Iraq.

The members of my platoon moved, following my hand signals. There was no hesitation. It was the most special moment I’d ever experienced. Looking at these men. Strong. Tough. From Nowhereville, America, just like me. My men. They all look different. Different races, and different dialects. But all normal dudes. They’re all individuals — but not tonight. In the here and now — in enemy territory — when a crack of a Dragunov sniper rife could end anyone’s life at any moment, we are one. No excuses, no medications, no women — just men. Men trained to fight. Men tough as nails. Men, with no distractions. I knew exactly what they could do. They earned this place, their ranks and their positions. We snaked along the country road like we trained for. One hundred percent commitment. One hundred percent in it for each other. If Lucifer himself were on the other side of the street, these thirty-seven men would have run headlong into the fire for each other.

No wonder there is a massive recruiting crisis in our military today — especially with young white men. Why would God-fearing, traditional, patriotic kids be excited about dodging accusations of racism and then deciding on pronouns, before walking patrol with a “man” who is more concerned about becoming a woman than being a warrior? It used to be Army green — all in this together.

Hegseth fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and was awarded two Bronze Stars. Courtesy of Pete Hegseth

Now it’s urban camo — that ugly black, white and gray camouflage. We are seen, like yesteryear, by our skin color — black, white or otherwise. And the gray area, that’s where the Left pushes everything else — driving black and white soldiers into their corners, pitting male and female against each other — when they should be back to back, guns out, together. The military was not built for radical social engineering, but — when weaponized— is tragically good at it. We can no longer expect to win the wars our nation sends us to fight if the sniper fire is coming from inside our ranks, and straight from the front of our formations.

The troops have always, for good reason, distrusted the “brass,” but they’ve never been on the other side of a culture war from military leadership. The gulf between private and general has never been wider. Generals in World War II were fired. Generals in Vietnam were fired. But not generals today.

No matter how poor their performance, they get that promotion — and especially that sweetheart defense contractor job after retirement — but only if they parrot the social justice liturgies of the moment. GI “Joe” deals with half-baked social theories implemented at the unit level, knowing somewhere a general is getting promoted for doing the foolish bidding of an ignorant and/or ideological politician. Joe also knows that if he loses his rifle, he’ll be demoted immediately. But if a general loses a war — or billions of dollars of military equipment — nothing happens.

Hegseth (center) recalls the unique cameraderie he felt serving in the military when the emphasis was on unity, not identity politics. Courtesy of Pete Hegseth

In the old days of endless wars, we spoke of mission creep, the slow and unplanned shift of objectives resulting in a quagmire. In today’s military, we can rightly speak of the loss of our fundamental purpose, our common creed — our covenant.

The “mission creep” is inside our ranks, as our original purpose as warriors and servants of the Constitution has transformed into an austere bureaucracy hell-bent on ideological conformity and societal change.

An ineffective, woke, unaccountable military is an affront — at every level — to the young men who actually pull the triggers. Their job gets more difficult, less satisfying, and a lot more chaotic. And then people die, just so generals and politicians can say that their force is more “diverse” than ever. Joes know where to point the finger — and it’s a middle finger.

You know who recruits “heroic men” very well these days — Antifa and Black Lives Matter, among other militant left-wing causes. I carried a riot shield and stared across at them outside Lafayette Square in 2020. They may be miseducated about God and country, but that does not erase their genetic makeup. These are men. They are brave men. They risk life, limb, and reputation to fight against … well, God and country.

“You know who recruits ‘heroic men’ very well these days — Antifa and Black Lives Matter, among other militant left-wing causes,” Hegseth writes. Getty Images

Thankfully, there are still more of “us” than “them.” The Antifa activists are loud, but they’re also masked, skinny, and marginalized. Across America, from small town to small town, there are still hundreds of thousands of patriotic, strong, manly men ripe for recruitment.

The military just needs to speak to them, and then stand beside them. They will give their lives for this country, but this country — and our military — has to show that it values them first.

Adapted from the The War On Warriors: Behind the Betrayal of the Men Who Keep Us Free by Pete Hegseth. Copyright © 2024 FOX News Network LLC. Published by Fox News Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Excerpted by permission.

Read More