The Pentagon, stumped and unsure about how to address white nationalism and other forms of extremism in its ranks, announced plans for military-wide stand-downs that will pause regular activity at some point in the next 60 days to tackle the issue.
The decision to hold a stand-down was made by Lloyd Austin, who made history by becoming the first Black Secretary of Defense after a long career rising in the Army’s ranks. In his confirmation hearing, Austin underscored the need to rid the military of “racists and extremists.”
Some on social media are now calling SecDef Austin a “yes man.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Austin ordered the stand-down after a meeting with the U.S. military branch leaders, who are under pressure to show progress in combating extremism after current and former military servicemembers were found to have participated in the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
A recent email to the force from the Group Command Sergeant Major, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, read,
“As of today, you are not authorized to wear or post any of [the attached] images. Doing so could result in military punishment. Please make sure this gets out to everyone in your formation. We don’t want our folks getting hemmed up because they weren’t informed. We — and the CG — have more important things to worry about and don’t need to waste any more time justifying logos. Some of these extremist logos may have been innocently and unknowingly incorporated into team/committee logos within SWCS; regardless of any good intentions, if you recognize any of these logos in any schwag you’re sporting, stop wearing the shirts, tear off the stickers on the water bottles, and let’s replace them with symbols that aren’t tied to extremism. Enough said.”
This is excellent advice from a very seasoned leader.
According to Breitbart, in a briefing Army Col. Mike Henry, the deputy commander of Special Warfare Medical Group (Airborne)/Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center at the Special Warfare Center (SWC) at Fort Bragg, said, “[he] told us that if anyone gets caught wearing, buying, selling, affiliated with in any way, any of those things on that list, that the first thing he’s going to do is chapter us out of the Army. The second thing is, he’s going to handle the investigation by sending it over to the DHS. He didn’t quite outright say that we would be arrested; he used the word ‘detained.'”
Soldiers allegedly walked away from the briefing stunned. Some are now trying to remove past social media posts or are deleting their social media accounts, while others who feel they did nothing wrong are refusing to do so.
However, more worrying for some soldiers is the “Three Percenters” symbol — the Roman numeral III with 13 stars around it.
In fact, until recently, graduates of the SWMG’s Trauma III course had the option to buy a shirt with a Three Percenter logo on the front.
“Now those shirts, all of them have to be thrown away and cannot be worn again, and they have to change the logo because it’s been associated with this extremist behavior,” the Breitbart source said.
The name comes from the idea that three percent of people fought in the Revolutionary War against Great Britain. The Three Percenters’ original Facebook page states that it is a “national organization made up of patriotic citizens who love their country, their freedoms, and their liberty. We are committed to standing against and exposing corruption and injustice.” The page has since been completely removed from Facebook.
Many of the identified symbols, such as the Nazi swastika, put out by the NYPD in an awareness briefing for officer safety are clearly symbols of extremists or neo-fascist organizations.
Now, another symbol of concern for soldiers is the Celtic cross. The Celtic cross is a form of Christian cross featuring a ring. It emerged in Ireland, France, and Britain in the Early Middle Ages. It became widespread through its use in the stone high crosses erected across the British islands — especially in regions evangelized by Irish missionaries — from the ninth through the 12th centuries.
Now an interpretation of the Celtic cross has come under fire as it has been adopted by the white supremacist group Stormfront.
According to Col. Mike Henry, if I were still serving in the military today I would be chaptered out and detained by DHS for having a very large Celtic cross tattoo on my arm honoring my religion and heritage. Not sure what the soldiers currently serving will be forced to do.
I think the Group CSM said it best: “stop wearing the shirts, tear off the stickers on the water bottles, and let’s replace them with symbols that aren’t tied to extremism.”
We have more important things to worry about these days than a witch hunt for symbols of hate within the ranks, such as the increasing tensions with China and other adversaries for which we must continue to train.