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Pentagon stopped drag show going ahead at US military base for elite training

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin - Mandel Ingan/AFP via Getty Images
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin - Mandel Ingan/AFP via Getty Images

The Pentagon has cancelled a drag show that was set to be held at a US Air Force base training elite pilots in Nevada.

The event, which was scheduled to take place on Thursday to mark the start of Pride Month, was blocked after intervention by Lloyd Austin, the defence secretary, and Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, according to reports.

The show was cancelled because it was not “a suitable use of DoD [department of defence] resources”, the Pentagon said.

“As secretary Austin has said, the DOD will not host drag events at US military installations or facilities,” spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said.

Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas - Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service
Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas - Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service

“Hosting these types of events in federally funded facilities is not a suitable use of DOD resources. Our service members are diverse and are allowed to have personal outlets.”

Third drag show

According to a military official, the show would have been the third drag show held at Nellis Air Force Base, the unit’s centre for advanced fighter training.

One held in June 2021 was named “Drag-u-Nellis”.

The base was forced to cancel the event and move it to a different location after the Pentagon intervened.

Leading Republicans have criticised the US military for going “woke”, focusing on diversity projects above combat training and readiness.

At a House armed services committee hearing in March, Republican representative Matt Gaetz of Florida questioned Mr Austin and Mr Milley about drag queen story hours being held on bases in Montana, Nevada and around the world.

“Drag queen story hours is not something that the department funds,” Mr Austin told the committee.

Mr Milley asked to see flyers as said he was not aware of such events.

“I’d like to take a look at those, because I don’t agree with those,” he said.

Mr Milley was visibly angry

According to two officials, Mr Milley was visibly angry when he heard about the drag event set to take place at Nellis.

“Consistent with Secretary Austin’s congressional testimony, the Air Force will not host drag events at its installations or facilities. Commanders have been directed to either cancel or relocate these events to an off-base location,” an Air Force official told NBC.

In May, Mr Gaetz wrote to Mr Austin and Mr Milley, detailing six other shows or events on bases or approved by the US military.

He asked leading military officials to provide further information and reveal whether punitive action had or would be used against anyone who used taxpayer money to fund them.