Pentagon Leadership Takes Partisan Stance on Extremism

April 11, 2021

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III ordered immediate changes to how the U.S. military combats internal extremism, Friday, April 9th. The effort will include the creation of a counter-extremism working group led by Bishop Garrison, the senior advisor to the secretary of defense on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Garrison’s appointment helps solidify the commonly accepted understanding that Pentagon leadership is actively pursuing the proliferation of racial equity initiatives and focusing on rooting out perceived extremist threats from only one side of the political spectrum.

A veteran and human rights advocate, Garrison was a well-known member of the protest movement against former President Donald Trump and served as a foreign policy advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and an outreach director for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Garrison previously condemned the use of military funds to build a wall along America’s southern border. He also argued that using active-duty troops to detain illegal immigrants was “cruel.”

The announcement follows the lukewarm response to an extremism “stand-down” in January that sought solely to encourage discussion of extremism in the ranks rather than collect any data. Secretary Austin pledged to move fast on increasing diversity initiatives and extremist education while simultaneously admitting that extremism is not a significant problem.

The effort demonstrates that the Pentagon reflects a general trend among establishment media that blurs the lines between domestic extremism, white supremacy, and conservative viewpoints.

This impulse was also publicly espoused by DoD official Gary Reid, who specifically connected white supremacy with the January 6th capitol riot as a cause for focusing scrutiny on right-wing groups rather than extremism in general.

This is in spite of guidance released by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) earlier in the year, which found that extremist threats to the military were widely dispersed among both the right and left sides of the political spectrum.

Additionally, an unclassified summary on domestic extremism by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, released last month, detailed that known extremist elements were found to include animal rights and environmental activists, both pro and anti-abortion groups, and general anti-authority movements including both left-wing anarchist groups and right-wing sovereign citizen groups.

Such a push also lends more weight to the growing criticism of the Biden administration’s top Pentagon picks, as well as a general concern that partisan ideology among the officer class is becoming rampant.

Since President Biden’s inauguration less than three months ago, numerous incidents of alleged leftist ideology have raised questions about the supposed nonpartisanship of civilian military leadership.

In one such instance, Task Force One Navy, whose mission is to maintain the operational readiness of the U.S. Navy, recommended that sailors be required to swear an oath “to advocate for and acknowledge all lived experiences and intersectional identities of every sailor in the Navy.”

That move followed similar efforts by U.S. Naval Academy alumni group Link in the Change to demand that the academy introduce antiracist training into its curriculum.

Two more incidents regarded the overt hyper-partisanship of nominated individuals within the defense apparatus.

In March it was discovered that the new diversity chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Richard Torres-Estrada, had previously posted partisan social media content that compared then-President Trump to Adolph Hitler.

Similarly, it was found that Biden’s top pick for Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Colin Kahl, had tweeted that the Republic Party was a “party of ethnic cleansing” in response to then-President Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria.

In all, the Pentagon’s current leadership is dedicated to hunting down domestic extremists from one side of the political spectrum that it also claims are not a problem. The move is unlikely to sow bipartisan accord among either the troops or the nation.

Andrew Thornebrooke, Founder & Executive Editor of The Rearguard

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