Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Thursday criticized the Pentagon's proposal to lift its ban on transgender military service.

“The military is not a social experiment,” Huckabee said during Thursday's prime time GOP debate.

“The purpose of the military is [to] kill people and break things,” he said. “It is not to transform the culture by trying out some ideas that some people think would make us a different country and more diverse. The purpose is to protect America. I'm not sure how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines makes our country safer.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) last month announced that it is studying the option of ending the ban. An estimated 15,000 transgender men and women currently serve in the U.S. military, making the DOD the largest employer of transgender people in the United States.

(Related: Mike Huckabee wishes he'd posed as transgender to shower with girls.)