The retired Navy SEAL who claimed to kill Osama bin Laden didn’t hold back his criticism of one branch’s new recruitment tactic that enlists the help of an active service drag queen ambassador.
“I’m all about freedom, you do what you want behind closed doors, you’re on your own time, but we need to have submarines with nuclear capability, aircraft carriers, men and women who fly jets and the best infantry in the world,” Rob O’Neill said on “Varney & Co.” Monday.
“What I’ve been saying lately is, our military needs to be ferocious,” he continued, “not fabulous.”
The U.S. Navy has come under scrutiny recently over its recruitment campaign first launched in November with “drag queen influencer” Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, who goes by the stage name “Harpy Daniels.”
RETIRED NAVY COMMANDER DEFENDS BRANCH’S DRAG QUEEN RECRUITMENT ADS FROM ‘DESTRUCTIVE’ G.O.P. CRITICISM
Kelley announced in a TikTok at the time that he was the Navy’s “Digital Ambassador.” His TikTok account has also amassed more than 1.3 million likes on the platform.
While Kelley’s Instagram and TikTok bios show that the performer’s opinions “are not endorsed by DoD or DoN,” the drag queen claims to have danced in drag for service officers on a number of different occasions, sharing one video from 2018.
The Digital Ambassador initiative that Kelley participated in ran from October 2022 to March 2023 and was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates,” a Navy spokesperson previously told Fox News Digital. The reason, the spokesperson added, was that the Navy is navigating “the most challenging recruiting environment it has faced since the start of the all-volunteer force.”
“We don’t join the military to express ourselves,” O’Neill countered. “All we have in common is that we’re all afraid that we get our heads shaved, then we’re part of a team, and our job as a military is alliance, solidarity, forward defense and deterrence. And a deterrent is a way you avoid conflict by projecting strength.”
O’Neill indicated that current and retired service members find the campaign decision “extremely frustrating,” arguing it advocates for “needless training” about feelings.
“They should be [training on] get up in the morning, get your workout in, go to the range, learn your tactics, rehearse them, and then go back to the range. And now they’re just putting all this useless stuff out,” O’Neill said.
“They’re wasting money and people aren’t joining the military for this,” he added. “And it’s frustrating for the men and women who are in there that are tough.”
The Navy’s attempts to increase interest among young people come amidst a historic recruitment crisis. A survey from the Ronald Reagan Institute found that only 13% of 18-29-year-olds are “highly willing” to join the military. Twenty-five percent are “somewhat willing” and 26% are “not willing at all.”
“I talk to thousands of people personally a week, and we have really good young men and women out there that still want to join,” O’Neill said. “I always tell them, if you can do anything, get accepted to the academy and fly something because that’s still cool. I don’t care who you are.”
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Fox News’ Jeffrey Clark contributed to this report.
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