Fort McCoy held two sessions of extremism awareness training March 26 via Microsoft Teams with the Fort McCoy workforce.
The training comes at direction from the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army to hold stand down training on extremism within the Department of Defense (DOD).
“The training addresses the impacts of extremism in the military, as well as the responsibilities of commands to foster an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment in order to prevent harm to the Army and honor the trust of the American people,” states the training mission statement.
Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Michael Poss, Deputy to the Garrison Commander Brad Stewart, and Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Mantha, garrison command sergeant major, led the training effort as speakers in the sessions.
Poss explained that the presentation was designed to cover a number of areas in relation to extremist behavior, including a review the oath of office all workforce members – military and civilian – took upon entering government service; behaviors deemed impermissible to public service; and indicators identifying signs of potential extremist activity and procedures on how to properly report these observed indicators.
Poss also noted the need for the training.
“My intent for this training is to make it known that anyone actively supporting ideologies that encourage discrimination, hate, and harassment against others will not be tolerated within our organizational ranks,” Poss said. “I expect the core principles of dignity and mutual respect to guide the actions of all our personnel at all times, to include our conversations here today.
“The vast majority of people in the United States military, and those who serve the Department of Defense as civilian employees perform their duties and responsibilities with integrity, and do not support racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists, supremacists, and other domestic terrorists such as anti-government violent extremists,” he said. “However, recent events have shown that we must be ever-vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat such ideology within our ranks and organizations.”
Later, Mantha discussed the oath of office taken by military members and DOD employees and why it is important to remember that oath when combating extremism.
“We each take an oath of office upon entering into public service as service members and Department of Defense civilian employees,” Mantha said. “The framers of the Constitution included the requirement to take an oath in the Constitution itself. While the specific wording of that oath may vary depending on the individual role in which you serve, all of our oaths include the commitment to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, and to well and faithfully discharge our duties.
“Because we each took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and to do our jobs to the best of our ability, we expect military service members and DOD civilian employees to be guided in their actions by that oath, and to have a professional ethic that prioritizes the team, the mission, and the nation,” Mantha said. “You are essential to our success, and we need you on our team. Never forget that being on our team is an honor and a privilege. You serve one of the most-respected institutions in America and that comes with added responsibilities and obligations. You are held to higher professional standards and must set the example in all that you say and do.”
Stewart covered the discussion about how important it is to recognize and report extremism.
“Leaders, management officials, and law enforcement, when appropriate, are primarily responsible for ensuring work environments remain free from violence, threats of violence, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior that adversely affects the organization’s ability to accomplish its mission,” Stewart said in the training. “All employees, though, are expected to promote a safe work environment by adhering to the rules, workplace decorum, and regulations governing their behavior. Management officials are obligated to take remedial, administrative, or disciplinary action, as appropriate, to correct deviations from this standard.”
Each of the training sessions included hundreds of participants.
On Feb. 5, the secretary of Defense ordered a Defense Department-wide stand down to discuss the problem of extremism in the ranks. The secretary directed commanding officers and supervisors at all levels to conduct a one-day stand-down with their personnel within the next 60 days.
To learn more about the training, visit www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2497216/dod-leaders-will-address-extremism-in-the-ranks.