Tucker Carlson Couldn't 'Be More Wrong': Troops Fire Back at Fox News Host's Claims of a Feminized Military

Tucker Carlson, host of Tucker Carlson Tonight.
In this March 2, 2017 file photo, Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio, in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has an open invitation to visit an Army recruiter's office.

The photo showing a soldier offering Carlson a seat in a recruiting office is one of many responses from service members to the conservative commentator's claims that updated hair regulations and new maternity uniforms for female troops are making "a mockery of the U.S. military."

"Pregnant women are going to fight our wars," Carlson scoffed Tuesday night. "... While China's military becomes more masculine as it has assembled the world's largest navy, our military needs to become -- as Joe Biden says -- more feminine."

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Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby denounced Carlson's remarks during a gaggle with reporters Thursday, adding that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shares the "revulsion" many are expressing.

"What we absolutely won't do," Kirby said, "is take personnel advice from a talk show host or the Chinese military."

The military's diversity, he added, is one of its "greatest strengths."

"I've seen it for myself, in the long months at sea and in the combat waged by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Kirby, a retired admiral whose wife also served as a Navy officer. "... I see it every day."

Senior leaders have been responding publicly to Carlson's comments in defense of their female comrades. Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said Carlson's words are "divisive" and don't reflect military values.

"Women lead our most lethal units with character," Grinston tweeted Wednesday night. "They will dominate ANY future battlefield we're called to fight on."

Gen. Paul Funk II, head of Army Training and Doctrine Command, also hit back in defense of the thousands of women who "serve honorably every day around the globe."

"They are beacons of freedom and they prove Carlson wrong through determination and dedication," Funk wrote. "We are fortunate they serve with us."

Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, commanding general of the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, said Carlson couldn't "be more wrong" in his assessment of the military. Donahoe led a reenlistment ceremony for a female soldier this week.

Others cited flying combat missions with women in Afghanistan that made the U.S. "more combat ready," getting bailed out by a female soldier when their unit was ambushed in Iraq, and the "badass" women serving in the Army's 434th Field Artillery Brigade.

Some also pointed out that they chose to serve in the military, while Carlson did not. "Please explain to me how my existence is a 'mockery' of the U.S. military," asked a woman who deployed to combat zones three times during more than a decade of service, which included a pregnancy.

Fox News did not respond to a request for comment in response to service members' reactions to the segment. Carlson shared a clip of President Joe Biden giving remarks from the White House on Monday while flanked by two women -- Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson -- he recently nominated to lead U.S. combatant commands.

Van Ovost has been nominated to head U.S. Transportation Command and Richardson to take over U.S. Southern Command. Their nominations were held back by former Defense Secretary Mark Esper out of fear that the Trump administration would halt their progression. Retired Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, the former head of U.S. Northern Command, is the only woman to lead a combatant command.

"We need the young women just beginning their careers in the military service to see it and know that no door will be closed to them," Biden said Monday in honor of International Women's Day. "... We need little girls and boys both who have grown up dreaming of serving for their country to know that this is what generals in the United States armed forces look like."

Biden also noted that the military, nearly two decades after heading into Afghanistan, is designing body armor that properly fits women, creating maternity flight suits and updating other policies "to really change the culture and habits [that] cause women to leave the military."

Most of those initiatives started or were implemented before Biden got into office. Kirby acknowledged that the military has a lot more to do to become more inclusive and respectful, particularly for women in uniform, and to provide more opportunities for women to serve as senior leaders.

"We pledge to do better, and we will," he said.

Still, Carlson shared a photo of an airman in the new maternity flight suit on his show, an effort dating back to 2019.

"The bottom line is it's out of control, and the Pentagon is going along with this," Carlson said. "Again, this is a mockery of the U.S. military and its core mission, which is winning a war."

When asked whether he felt Carlson owes an apology to women serving in the military, Kirby said he hopes the host is taking note of the reaction he's getting from troops.

"I would hope ... that he'll realize the mistake he made and express some regret about the manner in which he essentially demeaned the entire U.S. military, and how we defend and how we serve this country," he said.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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