During his confirmation hearing, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed to “rid our ranks of racists and extremists,” and now he appears to be following through on that promise.
Lloyd has issued a “stand down” order for the entire military over the next 60 days to root out “extremism.”
Today, I met with senior leaders to discuss extremism in the military. As a first step, I'm ordering a stand down to occur over the next 60 days so each service, each command and each unit can have a deeper conversation about this issue. It comes down to leadership. Everyone’s. pic.twitter.com/wbC21hdHaV— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) February 4, 2021
Austin wants all military units to take an operational pause to discuss extremism as he works to grasp the full scope of the issue and better address the longstanding problem, John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, told reporters Wednesday. The pauses are expected to occur within the next 60 days, but Austin has yet to determine how the stand downs are to be completed, Kirby said.
“The intent is to reinforce the [Pentagon’s] policies and values with respect to this sort of behavior and to have a dialogue with the men and women of the force and to get their views on what they are seeing at their level,” Kirby said. “He wants commands to take the necessary time to ... speak with troops about the scope of this problem. It's a two-way conversation.”
Austin spoke frankly with the acting service secretaries and uniformed service chiefs about his concerns about extremism in the military, including white supremacism, said Kirby, who attended the meeting. The new defense secretary, who is the first Black leader of the Defense Department, wants the service leaders to better grasp how pervasive the issue is within their formations and work with leaders to stamp it out, Kirby said. (Stars and Stripes)
Kirby went on to describe the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building as a “wake-up call” for the secretary given that dozens of military veterans participated and at least one current service member was there.
It is so far unclear how “extremist” is being defined.
Fox News's Laura Ingraham said the action--if it's "substantive and not symbolic," will "do grave damage to our military preparedness and morale."
"Our men and women in uniform have been asked to sacrifice -- multiple tours, many of them -- for so long. Oftentimes, in ridiculous engagements, idiotic wars," she said. "Now the Biden administration rewards them by casting them as potential domestic terrorists? Ticking time bombs of White supremacy? You can always count on think-tank generals whose salaries are funded by rich donors to side with the Democrats on the issue like this."