The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is the annual funding mechanism for our Armed Forces, determines the Pentagon’s priorities and budget each year. With overwhelming evidence of the connection between far-right extremism, violence and military service, it is incredibly short-sighted and dangerous for any markup of the NDAA to not address this threat.
Tackling extremism protects our troops, who have been targeted for violence by white supremacists in the ranks, and from potential radicalization and recruitment. Ignoring this issue is also a threat to national security and puts us at risk of further domestic terrorism.
Those in Congress who are equating combating extremism with “wokeism” are perverting the issues for political attention, sacrificing the people we are sure to lose in the next attack. This is not about a buzzword, but rather about ensuring national security and readiness for the military. This political stunt is putting American military members and the general public at risk, and other lawmakers must not fall into this political play.
We’ve been warning the government for years about the growing threat of white supremacy in the military, and we’re not alone. Just this month, new data shows that military service is a key factor and common thread among those who commit extremist attacks. The DoD noted in its own report on countering military extremism: “Extremist activity within the Department of Defense is rare, but even the actions of a few can have an outsized impact on unit cohesion, morale and readiness – and the physical harm some of these activities can engender can undermine the safety of the Total Force.”
And it’s not only about violence. A few months ago, a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman charged with leaking top secret documents online served as the most recent reminder of the immediate danger far-right extremists pose to national security. It’s an extremely small percentage of military members who pose a far-right extremist threat, but to ignore that threat in the NDAA puts all Americans, including our military members, at grave risk.
Lawmakers still have a chance to protect the American people and our troops through the NDAA. Forthcoming markups of the NDAA must include provisions on the collection of data, training, screening, and diversion programs. We’ve laid out specific recommendations that lawmakers should consider.
As we wrote to lawmakers, if significant action is not taken to bring combating extremism in the military to the forefront, we are definitely looking at more violence and likely another mass casualty event in the near future.
The NDAA is one of the best tools we have to address this issue. It’s time for lawmakers to come together, rise above the partisan divide, and do the right thing to protect military members, Americans, and people around the world from far-right extremism in the military.
GPAHE has been reaching out to Armed Services Committee members with recommendations. For more information, and our detailed recommendations, read the letter GPAHE sent to U.S. lawmakers and the Department of Defense urging them to take direct and swift action to root out white supremacy and other forms of extremism from the U.S. military.