Pete Riehm
Standards aweigh! Navy sets sail with Bud Light, runs aground
By Pete Riehm
May 9, 2023

Since their founding, the healthy interservice rivalry between the Armed Forces of the United States has always been fierce and often acerbic. Marines like to say that within the Department of the Navy, they are the men’s division – or the Navy created the Marine Corps so sailors would have someone to dance with. Marines already thought sailors wear dresses, so imagine the shame and shock when the U.S. Navy officially designated a Second-Class Petty Officer Drag Queen as a digital ambassador for Navy recruiting! That’s a joke? Right? Nope. It’s all part of the new “woke” Navy, but don’t pile on just the Navy – all the services have lost their moral moorings and are running aground.

All ribbing aside, a capable, robust military is essential to national security, so the ongoing shortfalls in military recruiting are no joking matter – this is a direct threat to national security. Last year, the military missed their officer recruiting goals. The Air Force, Marines, and Navy barely met their enlisted recruiting goals by robbing their delayed entry programs for 2023 to make their 2022 goals, so they are projected to miss their 2023 enlisted goals. The Navy is on course to miss 2023 enlisted goals by a surprising 16%. The Army missed their 2022 enlisted recruiting goals by a staggering 25% and look to repeat that pathetic failure this year.

This is a very serious problem. The military requires a constantly rotating workforce of healthy young people to meet end strength. What does that mean? End strength is the number of service members the military determines it needs to man all the units to fulfill all its prescribed missions. So recruiting shortfalls will be unable to fulfill missions in about two years when there are insufficient troops to fill the ranks. The Army will have about a 25% decrease in readiness next year. Compounded by plummeting retention, this is a national security crisis!

The American Armed Forces’ goal has always been to win the nation’s wars as the world’s premier fighting force, so traditionally anything that does not enhance readiness or improve war fighting is not included or indulged. Entry level enlistees are prohibited from having families (dependents), because firstly, they are not paid enough to support a family, and secondly, green recruits don’t need that distraction. Even when homosexuality was first tacitly tolerated in the 1990s with “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the concept was troops should do their jobs and the military would not oppose nor support an alternative lifestyle – just keep it private.

The U.S. military has thrived as an all-volunteer force for half a century, but now it’s faltering. For some time now and even more so with the Biden Administration, our morally bankrupt military leadership has embraced “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" (DEI). DEI is the flawed philosophy that everyone is welcome in the military, so the military should discriminate against no one. Wrong! The military discriminates against the physically and mentally handicapped. Members must be physically and mentally fit; mentally includes intelligence and mental stability – sexual perverts, like any addict, are intrinsically unstable.

As recruiting crashes and military readiness suffers, our miserably misguided military leadership and their leftist cheerleaders focus on proper pronouns for Heinz 57 varieties of gender and believe that catering to the depraved desires of our tragically immoral youth will improve recruiting. That’s why the Navy told Bud Light to hold their beer and watch the Navy's own Drag Queen Sailor repair their recruiting woes.

The obvious problem is the military needs young men and women of sound body and mind, but less than a fifth of our youth qualify physically because they are obese and sedentary. Furthermore, pursuing sexual perverts alienates morally grounded youth – not to mention it undermines good order and discipline.

As the military recruiting and retention disaster deepens, woke DOD leaders are making excuses that the good job market inhibits young people from enlisting, so they erroneously believe making the military hipper and more woke will attract young people. It will not! As always, young people are inspired to serve their nation by patriotism. The left is not patriotic, so they cannot comprehend that axiom. Young Americans still want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, so the solution to recruiting is to emphasize duty, honor, and country. Leftists, however, loath those virtues, so they insist on focusing on individual indulgences which hold no allure for young Americans and ultimately damage the military.

Overseeing the precipitous decline of our once proud American military, one must wonder what on earth our military leadership are thinking. For example, why is the U.S. Navy using the government banned Communist Chinese social media app, Tik Tok, for recruiting? Like Bud Light, why are they offending the vast majority of Americans with controversial notions of sexuality that add absolutely nothing to military readiness?

In addition to moral turpitude, American military leadership has been shown to be incredibly inept, as evidenced by the disgraceful retreat from Afghanistan. That was an abominable military defeat and acute embarrassment to the United States. Worse, the leadership continue to lie about it. With such lack of integrity, how can Americans in good conscience send their sons and daughters to die serving a morally corrupt and incompetent military?

Americans historically love the military, so they are very concerned by these abject failures. Military veterans are incensed that our military is besmirched, and our proud traditions and values are cast aside. This national crisis is making America vulnerable, so it must be addressed with drastic, swift measures.

The Biden administration must immediately revoke all this woke nonsense and relieve our military leadership of their duties – they have failed! However, the administration will not admit their failure, and they will not act to correct it unless forced by the American people. If military recruiting completely collapses, these errant leaders will be forced to act because America will be defenseless. Sadly, we are already almost defenseless with these imbeciles in charge, so veterans have no choice but to stop encouraging enlistment until the corrupt leadership and flawed philosophy are changed. Such measures greatly pain veterans who cherish their military services, but the wholesale destruction of our military should pain us more.

On this course, our military is dying, so our only hope is to force a gross course correction. Veterans have a distinct influence over recruiting, so for those serving and those who will serve, the best thing we can do is ensure they get the competent, honest military leadership they deserve. We will not sacrifice our children on the battlefield of political expediency, nor on the altar of social experimentation. They deserve better and America deserves better!

“No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4).

Pete Riehm is a conservative activist and columnist in south Alabama. Email him at or read all his columns at

© Pete Riehm


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Pete Riehm

Born to German immigrants, Pete Riehm grew up in Texas as a first generation American. Working his way through college, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After graduating from the University of Houston, Pete was commissioned into the United States Navy through Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He also earned a Master's Degree in National Security from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas... (more)


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