Two four-star officers testified before the House Armed Services Committee this week, stating that the risk of extremism in the ranks was virtually nonexistent and that their units were among the best, most professional in the world.
The comments came during a HASC hearing on Tuesday on the issue of readiness and posture for the U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) and U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), during which Alaska Republican Rep. Dan Sullivan made reference to an allegation by Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal that as much as ten percent of the U.S. military was compromised by racism or extremism, according to Roll Call.
“In my experience, serving in the Marine Corps reserves, that number is absurdly high. It wasn’t based on any data,” Sullivan said. “That would make about 200 — 250,000 members of the active force supposedly fitting within that category, which I think is a disparagement of our men and women in the military.”
When asked by Sullivan what the situation looked like from the inside, STRATCOM commander Admiral Charles Richard responded firmly and precisely that the accusation was patently false.
“I am very confident that the number of extremists in my forces is zero,” Richard said.
“Every person in my organization has to have a security clearance for starters,” Richard added. “And when you fill that form out, and I’ve been filling it out for 40 years, there is an extensive battery of questions designed to get after that very point. And then somebody goes and investigates you, and then they go talk to all your references and then they go talk some more, hunting for that very thing. We don’t care what the source of extremism was. Those date back to communism, which was actually what they were looking for when I first came in. And today they’ll even go look at your social media. If you can’t pass that bar, I don’t even see you.”
Richard also described that his command now also implements extensive peer-monitoring in the form of personnel reviews, allowing soldiers to provide near-constant updates as to their perceptions and experiences, as is in line with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin‘s ongoing mission to hunt the specter of white supremacy in the military.
“My forces meet the highest standard that the DOD requires,” Richard added.
When asked for his thoughts on his own command, SPACECOM commander General James Dickinson agreed with Richard’s assessment.
“In my organization, I would say that number is zero,” Dickinson said. “We are very keen and aware of those types of activities or what would lead to those, and we understand that very well. So, in terms of years of experience, yes, I would tell you that in the formations that I have had throughout my career, I have not seen that. So I believe it’s close to zero in my organization if not zero.”
Richard began his military career in 1982, and Dickinson in 1985. They know better than any the state of their forces and the extent to which extremist ideologies might proliferate among them.
Their remarks should be seen as a sharp rebuke of the repeated attempts by establishment media and military-civilian leadership to smear the good name of American soldiers.
Moreover, their words help clarify the urgent need for legislation such as Arkansas Republican Rep. Tom Cotton’s recent bill to ban critical race theory from being used to indoctrinate military personnel.
The U.S. has seen so-called anti-racist literature being promoted on U.S. Navy reading lists and its officers being pressed to take a solemn vow to protect “intersectional identities.” The reason given for this new extremism is always the same: We must fight the specter of extremism in the ranks, regardless of whether it ever existed.
That the commanders of both STRATCOM and SPACECOM not only dismissed the accusations of Biden’s defense secretary., but reaffirmed their troops’ professionalism and dedication in the face of political pressure, is a blow to the false narrative of racism in the ranks. As was Richard’s closing rebuke of anti-American extremism of any kind:
“You’re either on team Constitution or you are not,” Richard said. “And if you are not, you have no place in our military.”
Indeed, with brass like this, how could one believe that extremism of any kind could find a meaningful foothold among the troops?
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