Milley Pushes Back Against G.O.P. Accusations of a ‘Woke’ Military 1

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back on Wednesday against suggestions from a Republican congressman that the military was becoming too “woke,” calling such accusations “offensive” and alluding directly to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in which some veterans and active-duty members participated.

Mr. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III were testifying before the House Armed Services Committee when they were questioned about anti-extremism efforts and curriculums about race relations at service academies and beyond.

Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, asked about the teaching of “critical race theory” at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and specifically a seminar called “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.”

“This came to me from cadets, from families, from soldiers with their alarm and their concern about how divisive this type of teaching is that is rooted in Marxism,” Mr. Waltz said.

Mr. Austin, who is the nation’s first Black defense secretary, suggested that the teaching of literature concerning white rage, as Mr. Waltz had described it, “certainly sounds like something that should not occur.”

But General Milley, who is white, defended both the seminar and the broader practice of teaching service members controversial or uncomfortable ideas.

“I want to understand white rage, and I’m white,” General Milley said.

“What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America?” he continued, as Mr. Austin looked on. “What is wrong with having some situational understanding about the country we are here to defend?”

Noting that his having read writers like Karl Marx did not make him a communist, General Milley went on a long, impromptu disquisition on the history of racism in the military and the need for cadets and service members alike to study it.

“I do want to know,” he said. “It matters to our military and the discipline and cohesion of this military.”