A U.S. Marine force apologized Saturday for comments its official account made on Twitter defending women in the military amid a larger dispute between the Pentagon and Fox News host Tucker Carlson over female servicemembers.

Joining a larger debate over the role of women in the military, the II Marine Expeditionary Force’s official account quipped back at one commenter, “Come back when you’ve served and been pregnant.” The account later apologized for the apparent overreach after online backlash, explaining “we’ve strayed away from our brand and realize that.”

“We are human and we messed up. We intended to speak up for female Marines and it was an effort to support them. They are a crucial part to our corps and we need them to know that. We will adjust fire and ensure the utmost professionalism in our tweets.,” the account later tweeted.

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The expeditionary force, one of the three in the Marines Corps, posted a tweet in support of U.S. Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker, who was also condemning comments from the Fox News host.

“I’ll remind everyone that his opinion, which he has a right to, is based off of actually zero days of service in the armed forces,” Stalkersaid.

On Tuesday, Carlson complained during his primetime talk show that China’s military was becoming “more masculine” while “our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine.”

The comments, coming after efforts by President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to address issues of sexual harassment and gender equity in the military, drew a rare rebuke from the Pentagon.

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“I want to be very clear right up front, that the diversity of our military is one of our greatest strengths,” Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said Thursday.”I’ve seen it for myself in long months at sea and in the combat waged by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve seen it up on Capitol Hill just this past month. And I see it every day here right at the Pentagon.”

The conflict speaks to broader disputes over gender in the armed forces and the nature of the U.S. military, which has seen a series of high-profile conflicts over issues of female harassment and equity in recent years.

“What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host, or the Chinese military. 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,” Kirby continued.

Official accounts from the Marines, the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy have posted tweets in support of female service members as part of Women’s History Month. Carlson’s comments elicited a number of direct and indirect tweets in support of women in the military.

Carlson responded to the rebuke from the Pentagon on Thursday, claiming the condemnation was as if his show were “a hostile foreign power.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: U.S. Marine force apologizes for tweets defending servicewomen





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