On his twelfth day in office, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued orders to hunt down “extremists” in the military forces. According to Brent Sadler, Austin took this action before he directed a review of the Pentagon’s policies with China – a “more pressing issue for national defense.” Sadler reported that the Defense Secretary recently released a report about “extremist activities in the U.S. military and actions to be taken to counter them.”
Despite the Chinese’s massed air formations near Taiwan or Russia’s 100,000 troops poised for war near the Ukraine border, there’s a bigger threat seemingly on the defense secretary’s mind; namely, extremism in the ranks.
The numbers, however, don’t support his concern, and it’s likely there’s another agenda in play.
First, the numbers. You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a pandemic of extremism among our military members after watching our military leaders testify on the issue or listening to the mainstream media.
When all the smoke clears, an objective assessment doesn’t support that conclusion, and no report to date has delivered any data to indicate otherwise.
Indeed, the secretary’s own spokesperson reported that prohibited extremist activity amounted to “fewer than 100 incidents” over the past year. That’s in a force of more than 2 million men and women.
Moreover, responding to a request in 2018 from then-Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the Department of Defense reported only 27 incidents of extremist activity over the previous five years.
The Pentagon’s vigorous response to these underwhelming numbers includes actions to consider changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, better information sharing with law enforcement, screening of service members, and increased training and education. Those seem reasonable, if applied with equal jurisprudence, but there’s reason or concern.
So, why did Austin act so quickly to start his “hunt for extremists”? According to Sadler, the “only plausible explanation is political – particularly given that Austin started hunting extremists before he reviewed China policies.
The event that brought the hunt for extremists was the riot at the Capitol Building on January 6th. There were ex-military members among the rioters. The assault was “a national embarrassment,” and it demonstrated “inexcusable incompetence in planning and policing.” Sadler pointed out that “no one in the government” has been held accountable for the incompetence. Law enforcement did track down and arrest many people who were at the Capitol – some who did not enter the building and some with no “prior record of violence.”
Hundreds of people have been imprisoned and held in solitary confinement for months. This is far different treatment that was given for months of riots and violence in cities across the nations. “Those rioters were often released and never charged, and some benefited from bail provided for them by organizations such as the Minnesota Freedom Fund” – supported by Vice President Kamala Harris. There are several differences between the Capitol rioters and the “social justice rioters.” One difference is the political party to which each group was aligned. Sadler sees a “danger to our military and to our Constitution”:
The defense secretary’s anti-extremism efforts don’t appear to be occurring in a political vacuum, given the focus on the Jan. 6 riot and not on the wider domestic danger from al-Qaeda or from Antifa. Failure to guard against a lopsided application of the law undermines the rule of law and the bedrock of our free society, the Constitution.
Sadler called for the Defense Secretary to “include facts and numbers validating his actions” in future reports. This would “instill confidence that he’s not just building a straw man.”