On Friday the Pentagon ordered new steps to weed out “extremism” in the military.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the changes in a memo, which include several actions they will be taking to identify and eliminate radicalism from the ranks.
The Defense Department’s plan is to update the screening questionnaires for recruits with questions that ask about past or current extremist behavior.
The news comes 3 months after the January 6th riot, which thrust the issue into the spotlight.
Under Austin’s instruction, the Pentagon’s top lawyer and other officials will review and update the department’s definition of “prohibited extremist activities” for all service members. Critics have said the Pentagon needs to take into account how extremism has evolved in the digital era, and how some adherents engage in more loosely formed networks.
The secretary also called for updated screening questionnaires for potential recruits to gather information about current or previous extremist behavior ”to ensure that only the best qualified recruits are selected for the services,” according to the memo.
The questionnaires, which would be standardized across the armed forces, would also clarify any “demonstrably false answers” that could later hold a service member accountable and form the basis “for punitive action for fraudulent enlistment,” it said.via NBC
Recruits who are found to have given false answers to the extremism questions could be punished for fraudulent enlistment.
The memo also creates a new anti-extremism working group. Their mission is to figure out how prevalent radicalism is within the military.
Defense Secretary Austin also issued an order that he hopes will prevent veterans from joining extremist groups. He told the department to make sure service members who are nearing retirement are fully aware they may be targets for recruitment by extremist groups.
The Pentagon’s new efforts targeting extremism have drawn backlash from many past and current military members.
While a number of those who attended the Jan. 6 riot did have a military background, critics claim the number was very small in proportion to everybody who was at the Capitol that day.