The Army investigated more than 30 allegations of “racially-motivated violent extremism” in the ranks during the first nine months of 2021, while Marine Corps officials looked into 25 reports of extremist incidents linked to anti-government or anti-authority activity.
The findings are from a just-released report by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office. The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act required the armed forces to refer such cases to the IG’s office and establish a Pentagon-wide policy for tracking and reporting allegations of prohibited activity.
The military investigated dozens of allegations in 2021 of what it described as “extremism,” ranging from racist activity to affiliation in a criminal gang. But the Defense Department has yet to establish standard policies to report and track incidents.
“We found that data collection across the military departments is inconsistent,” the IG report stated. “For example, the Navy did not track disciplinary action for participation in extremist organizations and activities.”
The military departments reported numbers that in some cases were conflicting. An official with the Navy department said the data provided by the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service and the Marine Corps didn’t always align with their own information.
“Each military department used its own reporting systems to retrieve information about the allegations of prohibited activity,” the inspectors wrote. “We did not independently verify the reliability of the data from each department.”
The Army, Navy, and Marine Corps each had separate categories for “racially-motivated violent extremism” and “anti-government/anti-authority extremism.” During the time of the study, the Army looked into 33 reports of racially-motivated activity and 34 with an anti-government or anti-authority motivation. The Navy tracked 30 cases of racial incidents and 14 cases of anti-government activity. The Marine Corps reported 25 “anti-authority extremism” cases and seven where race was the factor.
The Air Force, however, combined both categories into a single finding: “Domestic Violence Extremism Participation” and reported 102 incidents for the first nine months of the year.
The Army reported only that 18 cases were adjudicated by unspecified “punishment/corrective actions” and the Air Force said that 28 troops were subject to some sort of “administrative actions.” In most cases, the incidents were referred back to their command for “appropriation action.”
While their numbers need to be tightened up, the Defense Department inspector general said the military services have made some improvements of late.
“The Army already tracks allegations of prohibited activity and requires reporting of extremist behavior to its Criminal Investigation Division,” according to the report.
• Mike Glenn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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