The Biden administration’s $715 billion Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2022 proposes spending about $30 million, on top of spending $9.1 million this fiscal year, on efforts to combat “extremism” in the military.
The Pentagon’s summary of the budget, released Friday, attributed “recent events” for the spending:
While we believe the vast majority of those who serve in the military and the civilian workforce that supports them do so with honor, dignity and respect, recent events have taught us that we must be ever vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat extremist behavior within our ranks.
The budget proposes $30.8 million to “strengthen [Department of Defense] tools to identify and address extremism, enhance training at all levels of the force, and update existing Department policies to include the development of a punitive regulation on extremist activities.”
The Department will improve vetting protocols and screening of public available electronic information (aka social media) and develop and deploy an Enterprise Case Management tracking tool for tracking activities of concern.
In addition, DoD will reinforce education and implement an enhanced standardized training on combating extremism in the ranks, strengthen Insider Threat Programs and Direct Awareness Campaign to deter, detect, and mitigate extremist threats, and use continuous evaluation programs for security clearance holders.
In addition to the $30.8 million, the Pentagon plans to spend $9.1 million in fiscal year 2021 for “initial actions” to combat extremism and insider threats.
The $9.1 million would allow for “immediate actions” that include: “enhanced federal capabilities in reporting; tracking extremism activities; and improved DoD accession processes to include screening potential recruits for extremist ties.”
“The Department also established a Steering Committee (SC) to support and coordinate DoD-wide effort to root out extremist behaviors from the ranks,” it said.
The Pentagon does not have a definition of what constitutes “extremism,” or data on how many “extremists” may exist in the military.
Current DoD regulation, known as DOD Instruction 1325.06, only states:
a. Military personnel must not actively advocate supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes, including those that advance, encourage, or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin or those that advance, encourage, or advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights. b. Military personnel must reject active participation in criminal gangs pursuant to section 544 of Public Law 110-181 (Reference (i)) and in other organizations that advocate supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes; including those that attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin; advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity; or otherwise engage in efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.
Active participation in such gangs or organizations is prohibited. Active participation includes, but is not limited to, fundraising; demonstrating or rallying; recruiting, training, organizing, or leading members; distributing material (including posting online); knowingly wearing gang colors or clothing; having tattoos or body markings associated with such gangs or organizations; or otherwise engaging in activities in furtherance of the objective of such gangs or organizations that are detrimental to good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment or are incompatible with military service. c. Commanders have the authority to employ the full range of administrative and disciplinary actions, including administrative separation or appropriate criminal action, against military personnel who engage in activity prohibited in paragraphs 8.a. or 8.b. of this enclosure.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has stood up a Counter Extremism Working Group, which is tasked with coming up with a definition of “extremism.”
The Pentagon has insisted its push against extremism is not political or an effort targeting conservatives in the military.
However, Pentagon officials have linked the January 6 Capitol riot and protests in support of former President Donald Trump to its efforts, citing the presence of veterans.
On March 2, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told Breitbart News, “Clearly, the events of January 6th and the presence of some veterans in that crowd has certainly got everybody’s attention here.”
To date, only one active duty member of the military, four reservists, and 41 veterans — out of about 450 people so far — have been charged in relation to the riot.