A Defense Department order on Feb. 5 to root out “extremists” in the ranks of the U.S. armed forces has drawn fire from the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, and senior officers from prior administrations agree with his concerns.
“When the Chinese Navy is five times bigger than ours, when China is stealing our tech right and left, and putting more assets in space, where does the Secretary of Defense see our priorities?” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) told The Epoch Times. “My concern is the message this memo sends.”
President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has, since before he took office, emphasized finding the enemies in U.S. uniforms.
Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee during confirmation hearings: “The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”
The Secretary of Defense directed unit commanders on Feb. 5 to conduct a leadership “stand-down” within 60 days to address the issues of extremist ideology in all branches of service.
A memo followed, titled “Leadership Stand-Down to Address Extremism in the Force” issued Feb. 26, which mandates that unit commanders determine security threats by service personnel aligned with extremists, and specifically, “white supremacists.”
Media critics have called it a purity test. The order followed news that several of the people who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were active or former military.
“Yes, we should root out all extremists, but it should be across all ideologies—anarchist, communist, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, or Nazis, and regulations on the books already proscribe that,” Waltz said.
“As far as my Green Beret experience goes, when the bullets are flying, your enemies could care less whether you are black, white, or brown,” said Waltz, a decorated veteran who serves as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.
“This overall focus on race and skin color is antithetical to our merit-based, mission-focused military,” Waltz said.
A suggested talking point in the stand-down memo of Feb. 26 reads, “Actively espousing ideologies that encourage discrimination, hate, and harassment against others will not be tolerated within our (unit/command/etc).”
The memo specifically targets “racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists, including white supremacists, and other domestic terrorists such as anti-government violent extremists.”
Four examples of impermissible groups cited in the stand-down memo are either white supremacists or neo-Nazi groups.
Lt. Col. Uriah Orland, a Pentagon spokesman, responded to queries from The Epoch Times about why Antifa, communists, and jihadists weren’t mentioned as domestic terrorist threats.
“We’ve been fighting a war against terrorism for more than 20 years. It’s ingrained and everyone knows it’s bad. The stand-down is focused at recent events, as stated in the leadership stand-down framework,” Orland said.
“Within [a] broad scope of prohibited activity is included terrorist activity, anarchist activity, etc., as these all are detrimental to good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment or are incompatible with military service, and against the law.”
The Feb. 26 memo requires that service members report to their superiors the actions of colleagues that could be of concern.
“Reporting: If you observe a co-worker exhibiting concerning behaviors, you have a responsibility to report it through the chain of command or supervision to your local security manager, and/or directly to the Insider Threat program office. Report issues of imminent threats or activity that may constitute criminal conduct to local law enforcement immediately,” the memo states.
Qualifications for security clearances may be denied for personnel who get reported by fellow service members.
“If you observe a Service member actively participating in an extremist organization in a manner that you suspect violates the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] or the Department of Defense’s, a Military Department’s, or Service’s extremism policies, report the Service member to a supervisor, commander, or military criminal investigator.
“Extremist behavior by Department personnel that does not rise to the level of a violation of the UCMJ or other applicable laws, or the Department of Defense’s, Military Department’s, or Military Service’s extremism policies may still be a concern under the U.S. Government’s national security adjudicative guidelines, used to assess eligibility for access to classified information or to hold a sensitive position.”
Some active-duty members of the military who attended the large rally held by President Donald Trump in Washington on Jan. 6 have told The Epoch Times that they feel they’re under surveillance.
“People have come to me and said that people are asking questions about me,” said one, who declined to be identified.
Retired Gen. William Gerald “Jerry” Boykin, a former undersecretary of defense for intelligence, calls the mandates a threat to morale and recruitment.
“This effort will destroy our military,” Boykin told The Epoch Times. The department-wide collection of data on serving members of the military who may have voiced support for Donald Trump will hurt morale, he said.
“This is very damaging to morale, which will impact recruitment and retention,” said Boykin, currently a vice president of the Family Research Council in Washington.
“Where is all of this going? It is the administration’s Big Con, a big psychological operation designed to convince the American people that the people who demonstrated in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 and all the people they represent—that is, Trump supporters—are domestic terrorists.”
Orland said, “Creating an environment that is free from discrimination, hate, and harassment against others will not hurt morale and recruitment.”
Boykin says the stand-down has to be linked with the long-term occupation of the U.S. Capitol grounds by the National Guard, which is another form of psychological operation.
“Fact is, the stand-down is squandering time for exercises that are needed to prepare for the real war we have been in for 19 years,” he said. “Our military cannot be successful until we get back to the primary mission of winning the nation’s wars.”
The focus on weeding out white supremacists and neo-Nazis, along with no mention of Antifa, anarchists, or Jihadist groups has riled some active-duty service members who talked to The Epoch Times on background for fear of retaliation.
“We have had a series of attacks against U.S. servicemen by soldiers driven by jihadist sympathies, including an arrest January 19, 2021, of a Cavalry Scout at Fort Stewart, Georgia, yet never in 20 years was there a stand-down to examine Islamicist extremists in the ranks,” one said.
The politicization of the military by left-leaning social engineers isn’t new, according to retired Col. John Mills, former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mills contributes to The Epoch Times opinion section.
“I’ve lived through three phases of these ideological eras,” Mills told The Epoch Times.
“First were various ‘sensitivity’ training sessions during the Clinton years that hinted at significant Christian intolerance of others. These training sessions were shortly curtailed after significant pushback.
“Second, within days of the Obama administration taking office, a DHS flyer was circulated within government that said white Christian males with guns were a greater danger than Islamic extremists. This flyer was pulled back, but Obama politicals told me several times that white Christian males with guns is what kept them up at night—more so than ISIS, China, and Russia,” he said.
“The chilling and directive nature of the current third wave of indoctrination is concerning.
“There is extremism, and it has to be addressed, but there are multiple forms on all sides which must be holistically discussed. Their program must be altered to be fair, impartial, science and fact-based, and address 360 degrees of extremism,” Mills said.
“If they’re going to obsess over the Proud Boys, they need to also obsess over Antifa and BLM.”