Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s primary concern is the rooting out of extremism within the ranks and has called on all troops to “stamp out” the issue. 

“We need your help,” Austin said. “I’m talking, of course, about extremism and extremist ideology. Views and conduct that run counter to everything that we believe in, and which can actually tear at the fabric of who we are as an institution.”

“I’ve seen this before, I’ve lived through it as a soldier and as a commander,” Austin continued regarding extremism in the ranks. “It’s not new to our country, and sadly, it’s not new to our military. What is new is the speed and the pervasiveness with which extremist ideology can spread today, thanks to social media and the aggressive, organized, and emboldened attitude many of these hate groups and their sympathizers are now applying to their recruitment and to their operations.”

According to an internal document, a social media screening platform is being designed to monitor servicemembers. The “extremism steering committee” will be headed up by Bishop Garrison, a senior adviser to the secretary of defense.

Why spy on your competitor’s social media?

The Pilot Program Will Continuously Monitor the Social Media of Servicemembers for Concerning Behavior

What this means exactly is still unclear.

Furthermore, Congress may not be cognizant of this action at all. When asked about the program, a spokesperson for Representative Don Bacon (R-NE), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said they were not aware of it.

“I have discussed this with our defense team, and as of right now, we have not heard anything from DoD that would confirm this story,” Bacon’s press secretary Abbey Schieffer said. The Senate Armed Services Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.