A previously unpublicized October 2020 Pentagon report to Congress has detailed the existence of extremism in the U.S. military, CQ Roll Call reported. It also describes the ways in which the military is attempting to excise and bar extremists.
The degree to which Neo-Nazism and white supremacy are present in the military is rare but unclear, CQ Roll Call reported.
However, extremists from the military have been in the popular media sphere recently, given their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. According to NPR, nearly one in five people charged over their alleged involvement in the attack appear to have a military history.
According to the Pentagon report, those currently or formerly in the military are valued recruits for supremacist groups. The leaders of such groups attempt to enlist themselves and encourage other members to follow suit.
“Despite a low number of cases in absolute terms, individuals with extremist affiliations and military experience are a concern to U.S. national security because of their proven ability to execute high-impact events,” according to the report. “Access to service members with combat training and technical weapons expertise can also increase both the probability of success and the potency of planned violent attacks.”
The report provides the information of one such extremist, a Florida National Guard member who had co-founded violent fascist group Atomwaffen Division, which has been linked to multiple hate crimes and murders.
“A good way people in the military find other rightists is to simply wear a shirt with some obscure fascist logo,” an infantryman neo-Nazi wrote in extremist chatroom Iron March. “The symbols of SS units are especially common, even on things as public as cars, flags and helmets.”
The report also puts forth potential solutions to the issue, such as specifying security clearance questions, using an FBI database of extremist tattoos and creating a designation on military discharge and separation forms for those removed for extremism.
Current military rules bar active participation in extremist groups or public advocacy of these views.
But belonging to such a group is not explicitly prohibited.
Extremism is a core target for new Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III.
A Pentagon spokesperson has not given a progress update this week as to the implementation of these proposals.