Pentagon spokesman John Kirby dismissed concerns about "wokeness" in the U.S. military as "ridiculous" on Sunday when Fox News' Dana Perino pressed him on it.

Perino noted "some criticism in the U.S. military that perhaps there's too much of a left-ward tilt or a wokeness in our military when we face really determined adversaries, committed adversaries in China, Russia, Iran, who maybe don't have those same kind of pressures."

"How do you respond to those criticisms?" she asked.

"It depends on what they are, but I think a lot of it, quite frankly, is driving a stake through a straw man, here," Kirby responded. "This argument of ‘wokeness’ in the military. I was in the military for 30 years, and I can tell you, things like diversity and inclusion, that makes us a better military because it brings to the fore in the decisionmaking, operational decisionmaking that we conduct, better ideas, more unique perspectives, somebody else's lived experiences which might actually make us smarter on the battlefield."


"So we know, those kinds of arguments, I think, are ridiculous," Kirby added, "because we are a stronger military because of our diversity and because we represent all Americans, just like we defend all Americans."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, right, and Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor, left, listen to questions during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, right, and Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor, left, listen to questions during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a military veteran, raised concerns about "plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and the sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected separations and retirements based on trainings alone" in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last June. He claimed that many whistleblowers had lodged complaints about "Pentagon extremist and diversity training."

"One Marine told us that military history training session was replaced with mandatory training on police brutality, white privilege, and systemic racism. He reported that several officers are now leaving his unit citing that training," the senator reported.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill on September 28, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Patrick Semansky)

The Pentagon has denied any embrace of critical race theory (CRT) — a framework that involves deconstructing aspects of society to discover systemic racism beneath the surface.

Last month, veterans panned the Air Force decision to authorize – but not require – the use of gender pronouns in electronic signature boxes for communications within the department.

"The Pentagon has been infected with wokeism the same way so many other institutions have," Fox News host Pete Hegseth, who served as a U.S. Army platoon leader, told Fox News Digital last month. Hegseth said that under the Obama presidency certain generals were chosen "based on their political points of view, not based on their pedigree for killing the enemy" because they would comply with "new priorities."


"The military has a very specific and strategic job, and that's to keep our country safe," Former Army Ranger and founder of the Warrior Poet Society, John Lovell, told Fox News Digital. "And when you thrust them in to be the front line of a sociological experiment which has a pernicious ideology that makes people hate the United States, a soldier can very quickly start to despise the very thing he's supposed to be protecting."

Fox anchor Pete Hegseth

Fox anchor Pete Hegseth interviews entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel during "FOX & Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on August 09, 2019, in New York City. (John Lamparski)

Fox News' Jeff Field contributed to this report.