(CNN)US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CNN he won’t lose any sleep over criticism of US military forces from China and Russia and dismissed accusations by some conservative politicians and media figures that the US military’s latest recruiting efforts to attract more diversity and be more inclusive are weakening America’s security.
The US military will never be “soft,” Austin told CNN’s Barbara Starr in an exclusive, wide-ranging Memorial Day interview, adding that America’s adversaries, like China and Russia, “would like to capitalize on talking points like that.”
“I will not lose one minute of sleep about what the Chinese leadership is saying or what (Russian President) Vladimir Putin is saying. What I will focus on, and what I am focused on is the defense of this nation, and making sure that we have what’s needed to be successful,” the defense secretary said in the exclusive interview that aired Monday.
The comments from the retired Army general as the nation observes Memorial Day reinforce the Biden administration’s efforts to return America — and its foreign policy — to its more traditional role on the world stage and to prioritize diversity as key to building strong US forces.
The US Army earlier this month released a campaign of recruiting ads designed to appeal to Gen Z, featuring five soldiers’ stories of how they answered the call to service. The series is a “distinct departure from previous Army campaigns,” given its use of animation and “intimate” portrayals and turns “what was once a one-dimensional view of Army service into something more relatable,” the Army said in a press release.
Criticism circulated of the ads including from conservative media
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