The US Navy has enlisted an active-duty sailor who performs in drag to join its new “digital ambassador” program to boost recruitment, the Washington Examiner reported.
Joshua Kelley, a Yoeman 2nd Class whose drag persona is known as Harpy Daniels, announced on TikTok that he became one of the first “digital ambassadors” for the Navy.
Kelley frequently uses social media to highlight his journey from giving drag performances on board to becoming an “advocate” for sailors who have been “oppressed for years in the service.”
In one Instagram post, Kelley said his journey brought him “strength,” “ambition,” and “courage” to continue representing and being an advocate for “queer sailors.”
The US Navy’s updated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy states that it is “committed to enabling a workforce demographic” that reflects the country. According to the policy, the Navy is making a “deliberate” effort to “create a culture” where everyone “has the opportunity to succeed.”
It is not clear if “digital ambassadors” are compensated for their participation in the program. The pilot program ended in April and the Navy is evaluating its effectiveness before considering future implementation.
In written testimony to the House Armed Services Committee last month, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Lisa Franchetti, said recruitment for FY2023 is expected to miss its goal of 37,700 enlisted Navy personnel by a projected 8,000 recruits. The Navy Reserve recruiting goal of 10,330 for FY2023 is also projected to fall short by 3,000.
Adm. Franchetti said the Navy is “using all available levers” to increase recruitment “while maintaining our standards.”
But if the Navy believes using a sailor/drag performer will help boost recruitment, it could be in for a rude awakening.
A recent Heritage Foundation poll found that 65 percent of active-duty service members are concerned about the politicization of the US military.
According to the Heritage Foundation’s National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness report released in March, the US military’s poor recruitment was due in part to the imposition of social policies. It found that the Pentagon’s new diversity initiatives run the risk of “supplanting” the culture of warfighting in the military with a “new culture of DEI promotion and compliance.”