The Navy is aiming to engage with older Americans who may have an effect on their recruitment efforts, and they are refuting claims that they are promoting ‘wokeness.’

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday addressed a gathering during the Surface Navy Association’s 35th Annual National Symposium in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2023. This week a focus was on the capability of sailors, perhaps as a response to a rising political narrative. Others claim that the military has weakened itself through policies supporting or advocating diversity and inclusion. 

Now that the House is controlled by Republicans, military leaders may be subject to more rigorous interrogations about these policies. Adm. Gilday declared to the attendees that sailors are not weak but was “doing some pretty amazing things.” He stated that the ‘narrative about weakness is not true.’ Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro added that he would not tolerate anyone insulting the US Navy personnel, irrespective of rank. Recruiting may be the reason for this shift. Gilday stated that critical influencers such as parents, teachers, and school administrators must have a favorable view of the Navy. 

He has encountered criticism for his 2021 reading list, which included a book by Ibram X. Kendi, and Rep. Jim Banks accused the book of lowering morale and endangering national security. Other critics have accused the military of weakening itself by lifting bans, such as the one on transgender service members, and making service easier.