U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has ordered all branches of the military to “stand down” within the next 60 days in order to address alleged “internal threats” posed by white supremacy and other forms of extremism.
“The Pentagon on Wednesday said it was still uncertain how to grapple with the problem of extremism in its ranks and announced a military-wide pause to allow troops and commanders a chance to focus on the issue,” NBC News reported Wednesday.
“Lloyd Austin, the first Black secretary of defense who recently took over at the Pentagon, ordered each branch of the military to stand-down at some point over the next 60 days to discuss the threat posed by white supremacy and similar extremism, said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.”
Austin gave the order on Wednesday during a meeting with the leaders of each military branch, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley and Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten. “There wasn’t one being in the room that didn’t agree that there wasn’t a problem,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby claimed.
Announcing the pause to the press, Kirby said the breach on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 – which had nothing to do with white supremacy despite the mainstream media’s claims – served as “a wake-up call” for the Department of Defense.
“Current and former members of the military took part in the siege, and the Pentagon is under scrutiny over how it vets recruits and tracks extremism within the ranks,” NBC reported.
“We don’t know how we’re going to be able to get after this in a meaningful, productive, tangible way and that is why he had this meeting today and that is why he certainly ordered this stand-down,” Kirby told the media, adding, “There may be cultural issues we have to deal with here.”
A staggering 25,000 troops from across the nation were ordered to Washington, D.C., to secure the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Jan. 20. The troops, as The Washington Post noted, were screened repeatedly for “extremism” as Biden was worried that the troops would not be loyal to him – much like a dictator who just seized power would have concerns about loyalty.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ripped into the vetting, also likening the process to “loyalty” screenings. “This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard,” Abbott said. “No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard.”
Notably, service members are already screened for ties to extremism or other potential red flags. Thus, the additional round of screenings seemed to have been excessive and perhaps linked to suspicion directed at supporters of President Donald Trump after the Capitol riot.
The Associated Press, for example, named supporters of the president as potential threats to a Biden inauguration.
The AP report added that U.S. defense officials said they were conducting the vetting process out of concern about an “insider attack or other threat” from service members involved in securing the inauguration. The “threats against Biden’s inauguration,” AP underscored, “have been fueled by supporters of President Donald Trump, far-right militants, white supremacists and other radical groups.”
Austin pledged during his confirmation hearings that he would “rid our ranks of racists and extremists,” The New York Post noted.
“We also owe our people a working environment free of discrimination, hate and harassment. If confirmed, I will fight hard to stamp out sexual assault, to rid our ranks of racists and extremists, and to create a climate where everyone fit and willing has the opportunity to serve this country with dignity,” Austin said during the confirmation process.
“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,” he said.