There is no concrete evidence that violent political extremism is as prevalent in the military as some recent reports are claiming, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said.
Speaking during a hearing on Capitol Hill on extremism in the military, Rep. Mike Rogers, Alabama Republican, said the tiny number of actual cases discovered so far do not justify the scare stories that have appeared in the media.
While it’s important to root out anyone in the military who actively participates in violent hate groups, such extremist behavior is already prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and by each service’s own regulations, he noted.
Since the start of fiscal year 2020, nine U.S. Army soldiers have been removed from the service for misconduct where extremism was a factor.
“Nine out of nearly one million,” Mr. Rogers said at Wednesday’s hearing.
He also noted that just 17 Marines out of more than 20,000 were booted out of the Marine Corps under a broad policy covering extremism, gang or dissident activity since 2018.
“I agree with my colleagues that these numbers should be zero, [but] this is far from the largest military justice issue facing our armed services,” Mr. Rogers said.
The hearing followed the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump and a later “stand down” order throughout the military from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to address the issue of extremism in the ranks. The move has some worried that it was a partisan plan focusing solely on right-wing extremism while ignoring other violent groups such as the far-left Antifa movement.
“Anecdotes and online polls should not be our guide here,” Mr. Rogers said. “Nor should we rush to create large-scale political surveillance programs to monitor service members’ political leanings.”