White supremacist presence within military ‘detailed in new Pentagon report’

Service members bragged about their neo-Nazi ties in online forums

James Crump
Thursday 25 February 2021 12:19
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A new Pentagon report on extremism has revealed that several white supremacists have been active in the US military.

The report, obtained by Roll Call, which was commissioned by Congress and dated October 2020, details instances of former military personnel speaking openly about their white supremacist views while serving.

One example featured in the report was a former National Guardsman bragging about openly espousing his white supremacist views while serving in the military.

The former guardsman did this in the extremist “Iron March” online forum in 2016, telling another member: “I was 100 per cent open about everything with the friends I made at training. They know about it all. They love me too cause I’m a funny guy.”

No veterans in the report were named, but the former guardsman was confirmed to have been a co-founder of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group that has been implicated in several murders.

Other communications from the online forum quoted service members explaining that they can identify other white supremacists by the logos on their clothing and their fascist tattoos.

“A good way people in the military find other rightists is to simply wear a shirt with some obscure fascist logo,” one person wrote, adding: “The symbols of SS units are especially common, even on things as public as cars, flags and helmets.”

The report recommends several ways for the military to combat the issue and to prevent white supremacists from enlisting in the armed forces.

It proposes creating more precise questions for security clearance checks, as it argues that asking if applicants are involved in “terrorism” is not specific enough.

It also suggests giving Defence Department personnel access to an FBI database of extremist tattoos, so that they can easily screen applicants for the offending symbols.

Although military members are prohibited from “participating in or advocating for supremacist and other extremist ideology,” the Navy is the only branch that has a rule requiring those identified as white supremacists to leave the military.

It advises that an official rule should be added for all branches of US military service to make it easier for white supremacists to be removed from serving.

The report emphasises that the amount of extremist views found were “a low number of cases in absolute terms,” but says that any number of white supremacists in the military is a “concern.”

The authors added: “Individuals with extremist affiliations and military experience are a concern to US national security because of their proven ability to execute high-impact events.”

President Joe Biden has made tackling extremist views a priority for his new administration, and defence secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a military shutdown earlier this month so that commanders could have “needed discussion” with officers about extremism.

Mr Austin did this in response to the Capitol riots that took place on 6 January. Five people died and several more were injured as a mob of pro-Trump supporters sieged the US Capitol on that day.

CNN analysis found that at least 27 current or former members of the US military are facing federal charges in connection with the riots, as off-duty law enforcement officials were also involved.

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