After the raid on Capitol that took place on the 6th January, the US military faces a new issue – extremists among its ranks. But in order to understand the problem, we have to take a closer look at the structure of the army.
It is not surprising that the ranks of the military are filled with people coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. Many enlisted men in the US are convinced of the possibilities given to them with the enlistment. Stable employment, education benefits, and healthcare come paired with benefits for veterans and military pensions after service. Those incentives attract people who often cannot afford higher education or simply do not have the qualifications that they later seek to obtain with the help of the military. But besides that, the armed forces all around the World are an institution heavily implying traditions, patriotism, and national values that are often shared by right-wing political movements in general. This on the other hand opens the gates to right-wing extremists who often misuse these values in order to spread their own political beliefs.
This might be an issue as alt-right movements in the US actively recruit veterans to their ranks and often try to infiltrate the US Army structures by enlisting their own members into the ranks. It is not an issue endemic to the United States, as in Germany groups of neo-nazis and alt-right activists have been found among their SOF units.
In the wake of the unrest in Washington D.C. we saw the Joint Chiefs of Staff release an unprecedented memo to all personnel stating:
“As Service Members, we must embody the values and ideals of the Nation. We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law.“
The contemporary approach of the US Army to such occurrences remain on the level of unit commanders and commanding officers. They are the ones responsible for solving issues among the ranks and reacting to any violations conducted by their soldiers. However, with the new National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, the Pentagon will create a new position in the Defense Department, namely, a deputy inspector general for diversity and inclusion and supremacist, extremism, and criminal gang activity. The act’s new aims are outlined as:
“Sec. 572. Establishment of Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council of the Department of Defense.
Sec. 573. Establishment of Special Inspector General for Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Armed Forces; amendments to Inspector General Act.
Sec. 574. Questions regarding racism, anti-Semitism, and supremacism in workplace surveys administered by the Secretary of Defense.”
These essential changes in the structure of the US Army may bring new assets to finally put an end to the infiltration of the armed forces ranks by unwanted groups seeking to cause harm to national integrity. Nonetheless, the success of this operation depends on the willingness of the lower echelons of the armed forces to make an impact on the personal structure of the army.