Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on Thursday that Secretary of Defense James Mattis should resign if he allows transgender Americans to serve in the military. In an interview with Patrick Granfield, who served under former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Carlson challenged the reasoning to change military policy toward so-called transgender persons, asserting that the Obama administration was merely catering to a specific constituency rather than focusing on the actual needs of a fighting force. Referring to the pressures members of the Obama administration were under to make the change a reality, Carlson said: "You guys all should have resigned when they made you do this."
The discussion then ran to the policy of the current administration. Defense Secretary Mattis recently sent a memo to service chiefs and secretaries that told them that a decision will be delay on whether the enlisting of transgender individuals in the armed service will affect the "readiness or lethality" of the force. The delay does not affect transgender persons already serving openly in the armed services. The memo said, "After consulting with the service chiefs and secretaries, I have determined that it is necessary to defer the start of accessions for six months." Mattis added, "We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality."
Carlson suggested that if Mattis were to go ahead with enlisting transgenders, he too should resign.
Partial transcript follows:
PATRICK GRANFIELD: When I worked directly with Secretary Ash Carter on a number of personnel reforms, whether it was the repeal of "Don't ask don't tell," whether it was women in combat, or whether it was transgender service, the question was always, "Does this make our force more effective?"
And, you know, Ash Carter, he's a physicist. He's -- he wants the data, he wants the facts. He's not an ideologue, and neither is General Mattis, who is the secretary of defense. And so, that's how we approached these questions, but also in mind that we have the finest fighting --
TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Well, okay, I'm sorry, I gotta stop you there. First of all, he's a coward. He's a coward who should have resigned when asked to do this, because in no sense, with the data you described or not, does this make the country safer. And if you can prove otherwise, the floor is open to you. How does this make America safer?
GRANFIELD: So Tucker, you know, we have to concentrate on the threats of today, and making sure that our force is ready and able to fight, fight and win our nation's wars. That's the mission. But at the same time, we have to look to the strategic horizon, and make sure that we recruit from the broadest possible pool of America's best.
We have an all-volunteer force. We have to draft, we have to recruit from a number of different communities throughout the country. And in the past you've seen how the military has expanded to different ethnicities, to different races, to women in combat now.
CARLSON: You know this is a political sop to an interest group that the administration was afraid of. Nobody called them on it, because everyone was too embarrassed and didn't want to be called a bigot, or something.
CARLSON: Shouldn't every decision make it a more effective fighting force for the sake of the country it protects? This does not do that. It wasn't made with that question in mind. It was made for other reasons, and that's why you guys all should have resigned when they made you do this.
GRANFIELD: Well then, should Secretary Mattis resign, that he's continuing it? I don't think so. Secretary Mattis came up with a--
CARLSON: Yeah, I think it's -- I think he --
GRANFIELD: It's a six-month delay, to make sure that the policies are right and that we get the training right, so that our military can continue to serve and defend this country.