The Pentagon last week downplayed the Navy's use of a drag queen to recruit younger Americans.
"It was not a recruiting effort, but this pilot program has concluded and the Navy is evaluating the program and how it exists in the future," a Pentagon spokeswoman said during a Thursday press briefing.
The Pentagon's comments came days after it was reported that Joshua Kelley, an active sailor, announced on TikTok late last year he was a "digital ambassador" for the Navy.
Kelley uses the stage name Harpy Daniels and has performed in drag on Navy ships since 2018, according to the Daily Mail. He claims to be an "advocate" for people who "were oppressed for years in the service."
The Navy's digital ambassador program ran from October 2022 to March 2023. Despite the Pentagon's claim that the Navy's designation of Kelley as a digital ambassador was "not a recruiting effort," a Navy spokesperson told Fox News last week that the program was intended to "explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates."
The controversy over the Navy's drag queen influencer comes as the branch struggles to meet recruitment goals. The Navy is projected to fall 8,000 short of its recruitment goal this year, and the Army is expected to miss its goal again after only filling 45,000 slots out of its goal of 60,000 last year.
Published under: Navy