Navy reservists at the Navy Operational Support Center Columbia on Fort Jackson spent their drill weekend, March 6-7, tackling the topic of extremism.
The training is in response to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III’s Feb. 5 memo directing a stand-down to address extremism in the ranks.
“We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies,” Austin said. “Service members, (Department of Defense) civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment.”
The Navy has since created a discussion guide for the extremism stand-down designed to “prepare Navy command triads to conduct DOD-directed extremism stand-Down training.” According to the guide “The Navy’s leadership plays a significant role in preventing extremism in the ranks, particularly in the creation and sustainment of command climates which discourage and hold accountable such behavior and promote a culture of respect, trust and professionalism in the force.”
Austin also released a video on Feb. 19 stating that although extremism and extremist ideologies are not new to our country or our military, what is new is the “speed and a pervasiveness with which extremist ideology can spread today thanks to social media and the aggressive, organized, and emboldened attitude many of these hate groups and their sympathizers are now applying to their recruitment and to their operations.”
Senior Chief Petty Officer Kevin Hogan, who taught one of the classes, agreed social media has affected what’s currently happening in our country. “Social media started as a good thing and now it’s used as a negative tool,” Hogan said. “If you look at everything that has happened, social media has just compounded it.”
The training included discussing rights included in the Constitution; the oath service members take to support and defend the Constitution, what counts as prohibited behavior as well as options for reporting extremist behavior.
Training also covered “signature behaviors of the 21st century Sailor,” including treating everyone with respect, taking accountability for your actions, and holding others accountable for their actions.
Austin’s memo gave commanders and supervisors 60 days to complete this stand-down. “This stand-down is just the first initiative of what I believe must be a concerted effort to better educate ourselves and our people about the scope of this problem and to develop sustainable ways to eliminate the corrosive effects that extremist ideology and conduct have on the workforce,” Austin said.
The U.S. Army Training Center is holding an Army Profession Week March 15-19 as part of the extremism stand-down.