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
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
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