Recently, the United States Army Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) created the first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer position and ordered the Army Extremism Safety Stand-Down. These two measures meant to address what frankly very few within the ranks saw as an issue amongst their peers.

D&I Officers Had No Clearly Defined Mission and Were Shoe-horned Into Units

With no clearly defined mission and with absolute abruptness, these D&I officers were shoe-horned into the command structures of units Army-wide, specifically into USSOCOM subordinate units.

The first to hold the failed USSOCOM Diversity and Inclusion Officer position was Mr. Richard Torres-Estrada. He was supposed to be USSOCOM’s slam dunk to appease the ever-growing appetite for the woke social media criteria in today’s military.

Torres-Estrada’s tenure was short-lived. His diversity and inclusion beliefs made their way onto his social media accounts. They revealed him to be a Left Wing ideologue rather than a political moderate — which you would think would be a good idea for anyone you hire to promote things like diversity and inclusion.

Richard Torres-Estrada was announced as SOCOM's chief of diversity and inclusion last week.
Mr. Richard Torres-Estrada (USSOCOM)

Within hours of his appointment, his beliefs were discovered and made public. Within days, USSOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw made the statement, “USSOCOM is aware of the situation, and the command has initiated an investigation.”

McGraw then followed up with a less than meaningful, yet very common, statement to cover for higher-ranked leaders. Torres-Estrada has been reassigned to other duties pending the results of the investigation.

When News of Torres-Estrada’s Newly Created Position Hit Desktops Across USSOCOM, It Was Met With Instant Resistance

The soldiers wanted to know why this position was created in the first place.

The introduction of these Diversity Commissars seemed to the soldiers in these units as a form of punishment for things they didn’t even know they were doing. And there is a certain resentment for the brass which seems too willing to go along with every social engineering scheme the current administration can come up with.

This is keenly felt in the very tight community of Special Operations as several of these units seem to face a significant reduction in force restructuring.

USSOCOM’s new social media outreach initiative is not only bringing in all the wrong stuff but driving away their seasoned and most knowledgeable soldiers and leaders. These are the ones that have fought on countless deployments and provide the main continuity for combat knowledge.

Is There a Purpose to the Extremism Safety Stand-down in the Army?

The Extremism Safety Stand-Down was rolled out Army-wide just days later. President Biden’s newly appointed Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III made it mandatory. But why?

Again, there was no sign or lead-up regarding extremism within the force from the previous secretary of Defense. Furthermore, neither were commanders within the Special Operations community aware that this was an ongoing issue that needed to be addressed.

There must be a truth to these two initiatives. Either every soldier is pretending to be blind to these issues or something real is happening within the ranks that is only known to a few and the highest levels of command.

Race and Hate Seem to Be the Focal Points

In some extremism safety stand-down briefings, soldiers received training on what extremism is, how it can be identified, how to approach it, and much more. Moreover, it was clear that race and hate were the focal points.

Training also included what soldiers should be looking for from their fellow soldiers and how to report them to the command. Again, this is on par with the new social standards dictating that everyone must think and move one way: the way you are told.

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Soldiers also received information about specific and known street gangs, hate groups, outlaw motorcycle clubs, support clubs, and political groups. They were also shown graphics, signs, memes, and gifs which are deemed “extremist” to the professionals are common to today’s social media.
The Outlaws proclaim themselves as a “One-Percenter” organization. This means they count themselves as outside the 99 percent of motorcycle owners who are said to be law-abiding.

Some of these images included cartoon frogs, star tattoos, common Friday the 13th tattoos, and so many commonly non-extremist artforms altogether. Speaking of just a Friday 13th tattoo illustrates the problem with how easily the Army could go overboard trying to find extremism where it may not even exist.

A tattoo of the number “13” has a centuries-long tradition in the Navy. Sailors believed that by having that tattoo bad luck would see it and pass them by.

In 1995, the famous tattoo artist Oliver Peck created variations on the Friday 13th tattoo as a marketing gimmick. Further, tattoo shops offer discounted rates on any Friday that falls on the 13th of a month. The date is considered the Black Friday of the tattoo industry with hundreds of people showing up to get one.

Yet, the number “13” could also signal affiliation with the MS-13 gang. This Salvadorian gang originated in Los Angeles in the 1970-80s.

Do you see the problem?

The training itself received mixed reviews but brought to light the actual question: What is being seen in the military? Is there a real issue? If it is there are no numbers to back it up coming from the Army.

Servicemembers discharged for “extremism” are bounced out under the non-specific “misconduct” category that covers a very wide range of activities, not just political extremism. If a servicemember had an offensive bumper sticker on his car and refused to remove it, they would be charged with Failure to Obey a Direct Order under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But he wouldn’t be charged with engaging in “political extremism” which is a charge that doesn’t even exist under the UCMJ.

The real problem the troops are having is that these programs seem to be based on a presumptive belief that the military is racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, and that these diversity and inclusion initiatives are a punishment for these faults.

These Initiatives Must Be Focused on an Actual Identified Extremism Problem and Not Cast a Blanket Suspicion on all Soldiers.

This country’s military has fought through many wars and countless battles. Individuals from all walks of life have joined it. The military isn’t lagging behind American society when it comes to inclusion and diversity. In fact, it tends to lead it.

President Truman desegregated the military in 1948, while full equality for black American citizens didn’t happen until the Civil Rights Acts passed in 1964 and 1968. So for nearly 20 years, black Americans could serve in a non-segregated Army or Navy. But would go home on leave in Alabama where they couldn’t be on the street after 21.00.

The Army needs to be very clear with the troops, and also the public and politicians, about just how big a problem with extremism it really has. It can start with some accurate reporting on servicemembers separated for engaging in extremist activities. And we hope that mere thought-crimes do not constitute extremist activity nor lead to knee-jerk reactions to a tattoo.

Then the Army needs to explain to the troops just how big that problem is and ask for their assistance in dealing with it. It should not treat everyone in the service as if they are extremists in need of deprogramming sessions, which is what it appears to be doing now.