Two years ago, the Pentagon created the Countering Extremism Working Group with a mandate to counter extremism in the ranks of the military. Today, it’s disappointing — and frankly, scary — that the Department of Defense appears to be stalled on this effort, apparently due to political pressure from the right.
As we’ve testified to the U.S. Congress, far-right extremism in the military and among veterans is a major threat to national security, the safety of Americans and people around the world, and to democracy itself. That isn’t up for debate. As we recently wrote to lawmakers and the Pentagon, this issue must be taken seriously. Instead, Republican lawmakers have politicized it to the point of gridlock, claiming that these efforts “besmirch” the troops.
They do not. Extremists are a threat to the troops themselves, unit cohesion, national security, and the public. Recent examples such as Jack Texiera, who released classified documents and was a racist and antisemite, and Ethan Melzer, who assisted in a plot to kill American troops with a neo-Nazi organization, are a case in point. There are far too many other examples.
It is absolutely ridiculous that of the six recommendations the now fizzled working group made at the end of 2021, only one has begun to be implemented across the Defense Department. While, unfortunately, we have come to expect some lawmakers to either ignore or politicize this issue, the Department of Defense must rise above the sad state of U.S. politics and bring its focus back to coming up with solutions. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away.
For more on solutions GPAHE has offered via congressional testimony and letters to combat extremism in the military and among veterans, please see the following:
Alarming Incidents of White Supremacy in the Military
Heidi Beirich testimony before House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Military Personnel Subcommittee
Violent Domestic Extremist Groups and Recruitment of Veterans
Heidi Beirich testimony before House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs
GPAHE Asks Lawmakers and Pentagon: Take Action to Stop the Threat of Extremism in Military
April 26, 2023 letter from the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism to U.S. Lawmakers and Department of Defense urging them to take direct and swift action to root out white supremacy
and other forms of extremism from the military.