The Department of Defense’s inspector general this month launched an investigation into whether the military is adequately screening recruits for “supremacist, extremist and criminal gang behavior,” in accordance with Pentagon policy and procedures.
In December, Pentagon officials issued new rules prohibiting service members from engaging in extremist activities. The guidelines were announced about a year after some veterans and a handful of active-duty service members were found to have participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Soon after taking office, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a “stand down” in the ranks so commanders could discuss what the Pentagon considers a rise in extremism in the armed forces.
The new measures also seek to institute training for those leaving the service, who are believed to be targets of recruiting by extremist groups.
Recruits who “like” or share information on social media considered extremist could find themselves subject to greater scrutiny under the new measures.
Defense officials said the new rules address behavior, not ideology. But critics have accused the Pentagon of launching the effort to drive political and social conservatives out of the service.
“We may revise the objective as the audit proceeds, and we will also consider suggestions from management for additional or revised objectives,” according to the Pentagon memo announcing the inquiry.