FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. - September 14, 2023 – In a collective effort to combat white supremacy and extremism within the military and veteran communities, the Truman Center for National Policy and a number of leading military, civil rights and equality organizations called upon the Department of Defense (DoD) to prioritize and expedite efforts to combat extremism, while providing transparency on the implementation of recommendations and commitments.
The letter, which is being released today and can be read in its entirety here, is addressed to The Honorable Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense. It commends the actions already taken by the DoD, including the creation of the Countering Extremist Activity Working Group (CEAWG) and the publication of its final report in December 2021 – but urges the DoD to issue a report on progress. In this report, Secretary Austin reaffirmed the Department's dedication to enhancing vetting procedures, improving training, and addressing issues related to extremism.
“Extremism not only jeopardizes national security but also undermines the cohesion, morale, and readiness of our armed forces. Secretary Austin noted that the actions of a few can have a profound impact on the safety of military personnel,” said Truman Center Interim CEO and President Tripp Adams, “This is an issue that Truman Project members are passionately committed to. We’re proud of the work Truman Project members have made in combating extremism in Veteran communities.”
Since the release of the CEAWG report, there has been limited public information regarding the implementation of its recommendations or the progress made in mitigating the threat of extremism. Critical recommendations, such as resource assessments for insider threat processes, the creation of an anonymous reporting hotline, and the development of training programs, remain unfulfilled.
Data from the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) cited an alarming statistic: Between 1990 and August 2023, 659 individuals with military backgrounds were arrested for extremist crimes. A recent Department of Defense Inspector General's report also raised concerns about ineffective screening for extremist and criminal gang behavior among new recruits, highlighting potential security risks and disruptions to order, morale, and discipline within the military.
Today’s letter emphasizes the urgency of the extremism threat, citing instances of arrests involving active-duty servicemembers and veterans with extremist ties. These incidents underscore the grave risks that extremism poses to public safety, national security, and the well-being of servicemembers and their families.
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About the Truman Center for National Policy
The Truman Center for National Policy is a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to addressing national security issues and promoting policies that strengthen our democracy. Our mission is to ensure that our nation's security and defense are grounded in principles of justice, accountability, and transparency.
For more information, please visit trumancenter.org.