A group of 30 House Republicans are urging the Pentagon to fight back against “creeping left-wing extremism” slowly spreading throughout the U.S. military.
Rep. Matt Rosendale led the group who sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressing their concerns on May 25.
Rosendale and his GOP colleagues said they’re concerned about “the growing trend of left-wing extremism and politicization in our armed forces,” while citing several examples in support of their position that the nonpartisan legacy of the U.S. military “is now in jeopardy.”
The lawmakers expressed concern about the firing of a Space Force commander over his remarks that diversity and inclusion training in the military was “rooted in critical race theory, which is rooted in Marxism.”
They also touched on West Point training that they said was “anti-police” and “racist” as well as the appointment and subsequent reassignment of the first chief diversity and inclusion officer in the U.S. Special Operations Command after the surfacing of “his vast trove of far-left social media posts,” including one that compared former President Donald Trump to Hitler.
The House Republicans also used the letter to object to some of the efforts of Bishop Garrison, a top adviser to Austin, who in April was appointed to head the military’s newly established Countering Extremism Working Group, a body tasked with defining more specifically what constitutes extremist behavior, among other objectives.
“Under the guise of reviewing ‘extremism’ within the ranks of the Department of Defense, it appears that political actors such as Bishop Garrison … have been given broad freedom to both catechize and root out servicemembers who will not affirm far-left doctrines,” the lawmakers stated.
The GOP lawmakers didn’t provide more specifics on Garrison’s work, but a report from The Intercept, citing internal Pentagon documents, claimed that Garrison was designing a social media screening program that would “continuously” monitor members of the military for what they deemed are “concerning behaviors.”
John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, denied the existence of such a program, but did acknowledge Pentagon efforts that “look at the social media footprint when we are considering recruits as they come in,” as part of routine screening of candidates, which he said was just “good common sense.”
In announcing actions to counter extremism in the military and establishing the working group led by Garrison, the Pentagon said the group would “discuss the Department’s pursuit of scalable and cost-effective capabilities to screen publicly available electronic information in accessions and continuous vetting for national security positions.”
The group “will make recommendations on further development of such capabilities and incorporating machine learning and natural language processing into social media screening platforms,” the Pentagon said, adding that the group “will also ensure training addresses issues raised by commanders and supervisors on ‘gray areas’ such as reading, following, and liking extremist material and content in social media forums and platforms.”
In February, the Pentagon chief ordered a 60-day “stand-down” by all units to address the loosely defined problem of “extremism” in the ranks of the military.
Former U.S. Navy Lt Cmdr. Steven Rogers said that Austin’s order was unprecedented, unnecessary, and a dangerous road that leads to “communist China.”
“This to me, is dangerous, it looks like a political litmus test, and it’s a road that you would only find in communist China or in the former Soviet Union,” Rogers said.
Author: Will Levin