Rum, Buggery, and the Lash Makes a Comeback as the US Navy Fights Recruiting Woes; Well, Better Hold the Rum

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/U.S. Navy via AP)

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And if we take a look at the steps the US Navy is using to cure the worst recruiting slump in a couple of generations, we have to conclude that the times are indeed desperate.


The Navy is enlisting Yeoman Second Class Joshua Kelley, aka “Harpy Daniels,” as a “Navy Digital Ambassador.” I’m not sure exactly what a “Digital Ambassador” is, but Kelley assures us he was “hand selected.” Though I must confess using “digital” and “hand selected” together in this context makes me feel more than a little uneasy.

According to the Daily Caller, the Navy says this program was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates.” I’m not exactly sure what sort of potential candidate would be attracted to the Navy because of Drag Queen Story Hour, and I don’t want to ask. There are three more Digital Ambassadors out there with the same mission. I can’t find public information on what “potential candidates’ those worthies are seeking out, but the fact that they are keeping a low profile fills one with dread. We do have a hint, though. The Navy’s DIE policy says:

Our Navy is committed to enabling a workforce demographic similar to that of the nation it serves. With nearly 50% of recruitable talent coming from diverse talent, the Navy must be deliberate to create a culture where every person, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed.

The Navy has apparently been great for Kelley. In an interview he gave to the USS Constitution Museum, we learn, “Kelley says he had no interest in the military until he began dating a Marine and learned more about life in the service. When that relationship ended, Kelley decided to enlist in the Navy.” (The jokes sometimes write themselves.) So instead of duty, honor, and country, Kelley is motivated by bringing gay sailors out of the closet.


The biggest impact has been the LGBTQ+ junior sailors who’ve joined because of this, and the amount of opportunities I’ve had to be a voice for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s an honor to be heard and seen, and to now be on a platform to do that for many others is humbling, but very empowering. The amount of support the Navy has given me is spectacular and I can’t wait to continue paving the path for more people to live the legacy of our LGBTQ+ service members, like the ones who’ve paved it for me.

Thankfully, the Navy has also said that Kelley is not getting compensated for his contribution to our nation for his Digital Ambassador gig.

As our national defense focus shifts from a decrepit Russian Army to a Chinese Navy that is starting to throw its weight around, the Navy is the nation’s critical military service.

The past few years have called into question the ability of the US Navy to perform its mission in the Western Pacific theater. The USS Fitzgerald and McCain collisions paint a very ugly picture of staffing and discipline aboard our surface combatants (Accident Reports on the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain Paint an Ugly Picture).


Just as the Army is flailing about and out of ideas of how to recruit soldiers for a service that is getting smaller, the Navy is in the same position while trying to increase its end strength from 341K (currently) to 347K (Fiscal Year 2024). See GAO Finds Military Has No Plan for Ongoing Recruiting Crisis, the Real Question Is Do They Care? for more on the struggle to man the force. Six months into the fiscal year, it is 6,000 recruits, or 16 percent, behind where it should be to finish the year at 100 percent of mission.

All joking aside, who thought this was a good idea? How many young men and women, and more importantly, their parents and adult influencers, look at a gay drag queen cavorting about, and their first thought is: wow, it would be great to serve with him?

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