WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Defense has been instructing its commanders and staff leadership to host ‘stand downs’ with their troops to talk about right-wing extremism within the U.S. military ranks.
By Thursday, as directed by the secretary, all those stand downs should be complete, every service member should have been involved in a conversation about extremism, and any feedback the services might think is important enough to share with department leadership will be readied for transmission upstream.
“It was meant to do two things: to reinforce our values and, specifically, the importance of the oath that everyone takes here to the Constitution and what that oath requires of you,” Biden DOD spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. “There are active verbs in that oath that matter. And it was a chance to revisit what we’ve all promised to do, and what we’ve all promised to serve.”
The stand down was also about listening to service members and civilians and their own feelings about extremism, he said.
“To get a sense from the men and women of the workforce about how they view this issue, if they have any lived experiences that they would be willing to share, and to solicit their ideas and thoughts,” Kirby said. “It was not a data collection exercise.”
Right now, Kirby said, the defense department doesn’t have an idea about the scope of an extremism problem in the ranks. He said the service knows it’s a problem greater than zero, but also likely not one that’s as large as what some speculate.
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