On Tuesday, Carlson complained during his prime-time program that while "China's military becomes more masculine … our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine."
Carlson was referring to remarks Biden made at a White House ceremony on Monday, during which he announced the nominations of two female generals to become combatant commanders — putting them on track to potentially become only the second and third women to serve in those positions in U.S. history.
At that event, Biden said the military was undertaking "relatively straightforward work" to better reflect gender diversity within its ranks and retain female recruits, including "designing body armor that fits women properly, tailoring combat uniforms for women, creating maternity flight suits [and] updating requirements for their hairstyles."
Carlson ridiculed Biden's remarks the next night on his show. "So, we've got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits. Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It's a mockery of the U.S. military," he said.
The comments from Carlson provoked such criticism among military leaders that top Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby took time at the start of his press briefing on Thursday "to briefly address some recent comments made by the host of a popular cable show."
Speaking to reporters, Kirby described "the diversity of our military" as "one of our greatest strengths" and acknowledged that "we still have a lot of work to do to make our military more inclusive, more respectful of everyone, especially women."
"But what we absolutely won't do is take personnel advice from a talk show host or the Chinese military," Kirby said. "Now, maybe those folks feel like they have something to prove. That's on them. We know we're the greatest military in the world today, and even for all the things we need to improve, we know exactly why that's so."