Robert O’Neill, the decorated Navy SEAL who achieved international fame for his role in the mission to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, has voiced his opinion on the controversial decision by the U.S. Navy to enlist a drag queen, Joshua Kelley, as their “digital ambassador” in an attempt to increase recruitment.
As the Navy has been grappling with recruitment challenges in recent years, they have been seeking ways to make the military branch more inclusive and appealing to a diverse range of candidates, including those in the LGBTQ community. However, the decision to feature a drag queen in recruitment advertisements has stirred up a heated debate, with some questioning whether it is an effective approach to attract new recruits.
While some argue that the Navy’s push towards inclusivity is a positive step towards progress, others feel that the decision to use a drag queen as a spokesperson is unrelated to the Navy’s core mission and could potentially harm recruitment efforts. As a highly respected former Navy SEAL, Robert O’Neill’s opinion on the matter carries significant weight, and his stance on the issue could influence others in the military community. O’Neill would take to Twitter saying:
“Alright. The U.S. Navy is now using an enlisted sailor Drag Queen as a recruiter. I’m done. China is going to destroy us. YOU GOT THIS NAVY. I can’t believe I fought for this bull***t.”
Alright. The U.S. Navy is now using an enlisted sailor Drag Queen as a recruiter. I’m done. China is going to destroy us. YOU GOT THIS NAVY. I can’t believe I fought for this bullshit.
— Robert J. O'Neill (@mchooyah) May 3, 2023
“You’re doing it wrong, @USNavy …. Talk to someone whose actually done something! Not yeomen with t*** and a D*** !”
You’re doing it wrong, @USNavy …. Talk to someone whose actually done something! Not yeomen with tits and a Dick !
— Robert J. O'Neill (@mchooyah) May 4, 2023
The U.S. Navy employed Joshua Kelley, also known as “Harpy Daniels,” a drag queen influencer, as one of its “digital ambassadors” to enlist new members. According to Breitbart, Kelley participated in the Navy’s ambassador program from October 2022 to March 2023. Although Kelley had previously performed as a drag queen, his role as a digital ambassador gained more public attention this week after a video of him went viral on social media, which sparked controversy as many questioned the motives behind this recruiting strategy along with many questioning they’ve taken a hyper left-wing approach.
The Navy brought a drag queen 'Harpy Daniels' who is an active duty sailor to participate in a pilot program aimed at targeting a wider array of potential recruits through digital platforms.
China and Russia are laughing their asses off right now. pic.twitter.com/o00x5SYiVc
— I Meme Therefore I Am 🇺🇸 (@ImMeme0) May 2, 2023
Kelley, who identifies as non-binary, expressed gratitude to the Navy for allowing him to share his experience in the Navy and advocate for queer sailors. According to Kelley, he first performed drag for fellow sailors during lip sync shows on a deployment in 2017 and 2018, and video footage of his second performance was released on “international platforms.”
The Navy defended the pilot initiative, stating that it was designed to reach a wide range of potential candidates as the Navy faces its most challenging recruitment environment since the start of the all-volunteer force. The pilot program has ended, and the Navy is currently assessing the program and how it will continue in the future.
According to Navy Times, the Navy requested a $255.8 billion budget for the 2024 fiscal year, with $53.2 billion for the Marine Corps. Recruiting challenges include costly medical screenings, low civilian unemployment, and fewer eligible Americans. The Navy proposed increasing its active naval force to 347,000 mainly through adding more enlisted personnel. The proposed force would have 56,506 officers, 286,144 enlisted personnel, an increase of 5,470 sailors, and 4,350 midshipmen. The budget request is subject to approval by Congress, where the Navy stated:
“Faced with a challenging recruiting environment, the Navy increased enlistment bonuses in FY 2022 and will continue to do so as necessary… Retention has also been difficult with a strong national economy, so bonuses and incentives to retain our current naval force [are] a priority. To attract the most talented and diverse workforce, the Navy continues to evaluate its compensation package and admission requirements, and how it reaches potential recruits through advertising and career events.”
The Navy has encountered difficulties in meeting its recruitment targets due to a mere 13% of young Americans being “highly willing” to enlist in the armed forces. The Digital Ambassador program was implemented to address this challenging recruitment environment by targeting a broader range of potential candidates. However, many people are questioning whether LGBTQ ads are the most appropriate solution, as they believe that the backlash is greater than the benefit.