Pentagon leaders testily defend efforts on racism, extremism

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Pentagon leaders are defending the military’s approach to addressing racism and extremism and pushing back against accusations by Republican lawmakers that the effort is creating division and hurting morale. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin got into a testy exchange with Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida on Wednesday, while Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, angrily responded to statements by Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida about West Point instruction on racism. Milley said he was offended by the congressman’s suggestion that officers are acting inappropriately by seeking to expose future military leaders to a variety of ideas and ways of thinking.