Sen. Tom Cotton and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had a heated exchange during a hearing this week over Defense Department efforts to address “extremism” within its ranks, with the senator asking bluntly if the United States military is a “fundamentally racist organization.”
The intense back-and-forth occurred while Austin was testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
The Arkansas Republican, who recently set up a whistleblower campaign for members of the armed forces to expose extremist training programs, began by noting that his office had received “hundreds” of complaints thus far.
“We’re hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone,” Cotton, a former Army captain, told Austin.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) cut off most of Austin’s attempts to explain why the questions required more than one-word answers.REUTERS
The senator, who is largely seen as a potential 2024