Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered a Department of Defense-wide stand down to discuss the challenge of extremism in the ranks, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said on Wednesday. 

Austin has ordered a spaced pause of operations across the entire U.S. military so commanders can have “needed discussions” with servicemembers about the issue of extremism over the next 60 days. 

The Defense Department has a policy (DODI 1325.06 “Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces”) that expressly prohibits military personnel from actively advocating for or participating in any supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology or causes, including fundraising or demonstrating at a rally as part of such groups, recruiting, training, organizing or leading members, or distributing material.

The FBI reportedly opened 143 investigations into troops and veterans in 2020. Of those, 68 investigations were for domestic extremism.