Pentagon investigates extremism within the US army after the Capitol Rebellion

Members of the National Guard arrive at the U.S. Capitol as Democratic Members of the House prepare an impeachment article against U.S. President Donald Trump on January 12, 2021 in Washington, United States.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

The Pentagon’s internal watchdog announced Thursday an investigation into whether the military is doing enough to eradicate extremist and supremacist ideologies among the active workforce following last week’s deadly mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The investigation, due to begin this month, comes as thousands of National Guard service members, some of whom are armed, protect Washington following the deadly January 6th uprising of President Donald Trump’s supporters.

The announcement followed the Defense Department’s insistence on doing everything possible to eradicate extremism within its ranks.

Law enforcement officials are preparing for potentially more violence ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Officials fear extremists are targeting state houses across the country as people try to organize pro-Trump rallies online.

The aim of the probe is “to determine the extent to which the [Department of Defense] and the military service has policies and procedures in place that prohibit active advocacy and active participation related to supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes by military personnel on active duty, ”said Carolyn Hantz, Pentagon’s assistant inspector general for evaluation programs a letter.

Hantz noted that her office “may revise or expand the objective and scope as the assessment proceeds, and we will consider management proposals for additional or revised objectives.”

Legislators of both parties have urged an investigation into the Capitol attack and the law enforcement response to it.

Trump supporters near the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Shay Horse | NurPhoto | Getty Images

On Thursday afternoon, more than a dozen Democratic senators, led by Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, called on the Department of Defense to open an investigation into the spread of white supremacy in the military.

“The problem of white supremacy and extremist ideology in the ranks of our military is not new, but the attack on the Capitol makes it clear that this alarming trend must be addressed immediately,” the senators wrote in a letter to the incumbent Pentagon Inspector General , Sean O’Donnell.

The letter found that numerous people who attended the break-in or who attended Trump’s nearby rally that preceded the attack were identified as military veterans or active duty members.

“The spread of white supremacist ideology is dangerous to the military and threatens to break civil-military safeguards that our democracy requires,” wrote the senators.

Gary Reed, Director of Intelligence at the Pentagon, wrote on Wednesday: “We in the Department of Defense are doing everything we can to eradicate extremism in the Department of Defense. DoD policy expressly prohibits military personnel from actively engaging in supremacist, extremist or criminal gangs, ideology or teaching Causes. “

On Monday, Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Urged Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller to investigate whether active or retired military personnel were involved in the deadly mob.

If such individuals are identified by investigators, Miller “must take appropriate steps to hold individuals accountable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who retired as a Lt. Col. in the Army National Guard, said that “maintaining good order and discipline requires that US forces exterminate extremists who are infiltrating the military and threatening our national security” .

A U.S. Army officer involved in psychological operations, Captain Emily Rainey, resigned Monday after commanders at Fort Bragg confirmed they were reviewing their involvement in the riot.

In a statement Tuesday, the Army said it was working with the FBI to determine if any participants in last week’s riots had any connection with the Army.

“Any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience or a violation of the peace can be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or federal or state law,” an army spokesman wrote in a statement sent via email.

The Inspectorate General of Defense investigation was exposed when the US military presence in Washington rose to 20,000 members of the National Guard. This is four times the troop area than the combined service personnel currently stationed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

A portion of these forces, tasked with supporting the security of the U.S. Capitol and the inauguration of Biden, will be armed.

For security reasons, National Guard and Pentagon officials would not give precise details on the number of armed troops and whether the troops will be armed after the day of inauguration.

A senior defense official said on a call with reporters Thursday that National Guard members supporting the events in DC are being subjected to additional background checks.

When the armed forces flooded the nation’s capital, the White House released a statement from Trump announcing a reduction in troops overseas during his tenure.

US President Donald Trump speaks in a video message posted on Twitter on January 13, 2021 in Washington, USA.

The White House | via Reuters

“The US military in Afghanistan is at a 19-year low,” said Trump, who campaigned in 2016 to stop “ridiculous endless wars” in the Middle East.

“Likewise, Iraq and Syria are at their lowest point in many years. I will always work to stop the endless wars.”

“It was a great honor to rebuild our military and support our brave men and women in uniform,” said Trump.

The statement was sent as a White House press release. Trump, who frequently broadcast messages of similar length on Twitter, was kicked off that platform after his initial reaction to the riots.

At a rally in front of the White House shortly before the siege began, the president falsely claimed that the election had been “stolen”. He later condemned the rioters in a video message after a bipartisan majority voted to charge him with inciting a riot.

“No true supporter of mine could ever support political violence,” said Trump in the video on Wednesday evening. Trump has claimed his remarks were appropriate despite the fact that supporters went straight to the Capitol from his rally to join the riot.

Democrats are pushing for Trump to be convicted and removed in an upcoming Senate trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said no such process could be completed before Trump leaves office, which means it will drag on into the early days of the Biden administration.

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