Column: Extremism in the military becoming a serious problem

Lindsey Ulrey

Extremism in the military is a problem that is often overlooked. There have only been two studies on this issue, so the military is fighting this problem blindly.

The military has started paying closer attention to military extremism after the storming of the U.S. Capitol. About 15 percent of people arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol had a military background, an NPR analysis found, higher than in the normal population.

A Military Times survey in 2019 found that more than a third of active-duty troops said they had witnessed examples of white nationalism and racism in the military recently.

“It’s hard and it’s also very challenging,” Brig. Gen. Mark Quander said about confronting extremism. “Because I think if it was easy, we would have fixed it a long time ago. But I do think that everyone is committed to addressing it.”

According to Defense One, “In December, a Defense Department report on diversity issues called for more effectively prohibiting extremist and hate group activity and expanding the Uniform Code of Military Justice to address it. A DoD plan of action with specific milestones is expected at the end of June.”

“We know that especially white nationalist groups, extremist groups like to recruit military folks because of the skills they bring,” said Leo Shane III, Deputy Editor of the Military Times. “These are desirable things if you have these crazy ideas of waging a revolution … We’ve seen for years they’re targeted on social media, fed false information.”

This means the military needs to find ways to root our extremism. In my opinion, a good first step would be to screen for extremist views for all those entering training for the armed forces. Another major step is to understand the reasons why individuals in the military are more likely to be radicalized. Are they targeted more, do they have untreated mental illness that makes them more susceptible, or is it something else?

The U.S. military is wrestling with the problem of right-wing extremists, and leaders are working to implement ideas that will help protect the United States and our citizens.

The U.S. military is taking first steps that will not only weed out extremists but also prevent more enlisted individuals from being radicalized. Army General Lloyd Austin stated, “The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies, but we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”


Lindsey Ulrey is a freshman political science major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]