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Update: SecDef orders immediate changes to purge “Extremism” in the Ranks

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20 Dec. Department of Defense Releases Report on Countering Extremist Activities and Outlines Next Steps

On February 3, 2021, Secretary Austin directed a one-day stand down at all levels to hold an in-depth conversation on the values underpinning national service, the oath of office, and the importance of unit cohesion, as well as to gain a better understanding of the scope of the problem of extremist activity within the ranks.

On April 9, 2021, Secretary Austin issued a memorandum announcing immediate actions to counter extremist activity in the Department and establishing the Countering Extremist Activity Working Group (CEAWG), which build upon the lessons learned through unit stand downs.

The CEAWG was directed to oversee implementation of the immediate actions, including reviewing and updating the definition of prohibited activities in DoD Instruction 1325.06 (“Handling Protest, Extremist, and Criminal Gang Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces”). Per the Secretary’s approval as of 20 December, 2021, the revised policy is effective immediately.

The CEAWG also developed six recommendations and associated actions across four lines of effort: Military Justice and Policy, Support and Oversight of the Insider Threat Program, Investigative Processes and Screening Capability, and Education and Training. With the publication of the report, the Secretary directed implementation of the six recommendations and associated actions.

The CEAWG’s work concludes with the delivery of the report and recommendations.

The Secretary of Defense Memorandum on Countering Extremist Activities within the Department of Defense can be found here.

The Report on Countering Extremist Activity Within the Department of Defense can be found here.

The Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1325.06: Handling Protest, Extremist, and Criminal Gang Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces can be found here.

Immediate Changes to Combat Extremism in Military

APRIL 9, 2021 | BY JIM GARAMONE

Biden Obama Recycled official photo

Immediate Changes to Combat Extremism in Military

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered some immediate changes to better combat extremism, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said today.

Kirby said Austin started making moves after meeting with service secretaries and hearing partial results of the Defense Department-wide stand down he ordered in January.

The actions he ordered are critical first steps, Kirby said. 

Austin is establishing a countering extremism working group led by Bishop Garrison, the senior advisor on human capital and diversity, equity and inclusion. The group will examine how the services implement these immediate actions and also work toward intermediate and long-range goals.

A key action is directing DOD officials to review and update the definition of extremism contained in DOO Instruction 1325.06, Kirby said. Service members across the services asked for a clear definition of extremism, the service secretaries told Austin.

The secretary is also calling on the services to update transition instructions to warn those leaving the military of the dangers posed by extremist groups. Kirby noted that some extremist groups are actively trying to recruit military members who possess leadership abilities, planning expertise and knowledge of weapons that these groups desire.

He also ordered the services to work closer together and learn best practices from each other to ensure extremists do not get into the ranks. Kirby said the services will work with law enforcement agencies to accomplish this.

Austin also directed officials to try to discern the scope of the problem within the department.

One specific line of effort the working group will look at is determining how the department should facilitate better information collection, Kirby said. This would help define the scope and extent of the problem. It will also look at sharing among the service insider threat programs.

“I think the working group wants to look at how well (the services) are interconnected, and how robustly they are sharing information, best practices, to include data collection through partnership with the law enforcement organizations, as well as commanders and supervisors.”

The service secretaries had a frank discussion with the secretary on the problems of extremism, but they also noted that the vast majority of service members and civilians take their oaths to support and defend the Constitution seriously.

“The vast majority are serving with honor and dignity and upholding the oath and living by the core values of the military,” Kirby said. 

The vast majority of those serving are not espousing these ideologies. Yet even the few doing so have a corrosive effect, the press secretary said. 

The working group will meet around April 14 and have 90 days to deliver a report to Austin on recommendations for medium-range and long-range plans to combat this scourge.

Background SEAC: DOD Will ‘Move Fast’ Against Extremism After Completion of Stand Downs

MARCH 18, 2021 | BY C. TODD LOPEZ, DOD NEWS

The services have just two weeks left to complete a military-wide stand down to conduct training on and discussion of extremism in the ranks with every service member, a task assigned in early February by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

On April 1, the services must collect data from subordinate commands and provide notification to senior Defense Department leadership about having completed the training for every service member, and any feedback they received during the training stand-downs — information the department will use in finding better ways to educate the forces about extremism in the ranks and root it out, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón “CZ” Colón-López said.

“I will tell you that we are wanting to move fast on all these initiatives because we’re dealing with people, and we just need to make sure that we provide the results that they need to have an environment that is worthy of serving,” Colón-López said during a press briefing today, adding that extremism is not going to be tolerated. “We’re committed to confronting and rooting out extremism in the military.”

The initial training is just the beginning, Colón-López said. In the future, there will be more training and that follow-on-training will be developed and revised based on feedback from the services.

“Training may actually evolve into something else that we need to go ahead and give [to] specific people, like first sergeants as an example, [who] are the ones that are gauging the behavior of units,” Colón-López said. “I foresee that there will be some changes coming based on what we learn from people.”

Something else, he said, is that the military services must collaborate on how to set policy regarding extremism and the training on extremism as well, so that it’s relatively uniform across the services, because the future wars we fight are going to be joint. For that to happen, there must be uniformity across all services in how things like extremism are addressed.

“We see that we need to collaborate a lot more,” he said. “Nothing that we do is unilateral by service. Everything that we do is likely to be joint. And if you have a commander that’s in charge of different people … then I cannot be applying different rules for [one or the other] … we need to have a common understanding. And that is the direction that the military needs to go.”

Military leaders have speculated that the number of extremists in the ranks is not high, though concrete numbers are not yet available. Colón-López said that right now, what’s important is that those who are in the ranks know the military is seeking them out and will put an end to extremism.

“What is most important to me right now is the prevention of that behavior,” he said. “Because even if they exist right now, if they know that the department and the institution is looking for that behavior, and wanting to crush it, then they will think twice about performing those acts. This is all about prevention. We don’t want people to commit criminal activities. … The key point here is that we need to make sure that we let our personnel right now, past and present, know that we do not tolerate that behavior, and that we’re going to educate our people to know right from wrong.”

Lt Col. Allen West on legislative intent to purge military after SecDef orders Stand Down to address “Extremism” in the Ranks:

Chairman West’s Statement on Rep. Speier’s Proposal to Purge Military of Conservatives
UPDATE: Allen West “I served on the House Armed Services Committee and this proposal by @RepSpeier is absurd and dangerous.:“

Austin, TX, Release: February 3, 2021 For Immediate Release  

The TXGOP is opposed to the Democrat plan to purge conservatives from the military and attempting to remove “right-wing” patriots from our Armed Forces. Below is Chairman West’s full statement on this atrocious proposal

“I served on the House Armed Services Committee and this proposal by Rep. Speier (D-Ca) is absurd and dangerous. This harkens back to the Soviet Red Army’s use of political officers, Kommissars, to police political activity and enforce strict adherence to the communist party rule. Generations of my family have served this nation in uniform, all combat veterans.

This totalitarian idea is inconsistent with the principles and values of our constitutional Republic. It’s unconscionable that Congresswoman Speier doesn’t mention anything about Antifa, BLM, or other leftist extremist groups. This is the beginning of a political purging of our military. I condemn Rep. Speier for this “kooky” conspiracy theory-based idea and demand she apologize to our men and women in uniform. It’s apparent, from dismissing our military to sleep in a parking garage, Jen Psaki’s disrespect to the Space Force, and this delusion that the Biden administration and Democrats don’t give a damn about our Armed Forces.

Perhaps Speier should review the social media of Rep. Cori Bush, her colleague, who led a violent mob in St. Louis against two innocent American citizens, the McCloskey’s.” END

Lt. Col West is reacting to hysteria in the Legislature as Democrats attempt to censure and purge dissent, enabled by Social media Moguls. No one with the best interest of America approves of violence at the Capitol by a small group of out of control protestors that destroyed their cause. All Facts and participants are still unknown.

But for delusional Democrats to turn this into an “insurrection,” proposing all sorts of legislation against “Domestic Terrorists” including members of our military is equally extremist behavior. Lying about the danger when the intent to harm Legislators has not been shown, is just as destructive to America. AOC theatrics of nearly being killed is Factually proven false.

Austin Orders Military Stand Down to Address Challenge of Extremism in the Ranks

FEB. 3, 2021 | BY JIM GARAMONE, DOD NEWS

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered a DOD-wide stand down to discuss the problem of extremism in the ranks, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said today.

Austin and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with service civilian leaders and service chiefs to discuss the problem of extremism. Kirby noted that some of the extremists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 were active duty service members and others were military veterans.

Kirby was quick to say that “the vast majority of men and women who serve in uniform and the military are doing so with honor, integrity and character, and do not espouse the sorts of beliefs that lead to the kind of conduct that can be so detrimental to good order and discipline and in fact is criminal.”

Still, Austin said in the meeting with military leaders that while the numbers may be small, they are not as small as anyone would like. “No matter what it is, it is … not an insignificant problem and has to be addressed,” Kirby said during a press gaggle in the Pentagon.

The stand down will occur over the next 60 days, Kirby said. This is so “each service, each command and each unit can take the time out to have these needed discussions with the men and women of the force,” he said.

There is much that needs to be hammered out including the details of the training that will go along with the stand down and what the secretary and all in the military want to accomplish. The stand down is similar to safety stand downs that units may have, Kirby said. 

Austin called extremism in the ranks a leadership issue, and “it’s got to be a leadership issue down to the lowest levels, small unit leadership all the way up to him,” Kirby said. “So if you consider it a leadership issue, then maybe there will be some potential solutions there to allow us greater visibility.”

This is a thorny problem, one that has raised its head in the past. There is a DOD Instruction aimed at this very problem — DODI 1325.06 “Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces.”

The DOD Instruction expressly prohibits military personnel from actively advocating for and participating in supremacist, extremist or criminal gang doctrine, ideology or causes, Kirby said.

There are questions that need to be answered, like what constitutes extremist activity? What is permissible in looking for extremists in the ranks? 

In the meeting today, Austin made it clear that he is still mulling over how  he wants to organize the effort to attack the problem from an institutional perspective, the press secretary said. 

The secretary may establish a task force to get after the problem or perhaps another way. “He hasn’t ruled anything in or out,” Kirby said.

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