REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s senior leader asked his workforce during the command’s Extremism Stand Down event, April 5, for vigilance in rooting out extremist beliefs or views that are not in keeping with Army Values.
Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, USASMDC commanding general, led this event as well as the command’s first stand down on March 15 but has empowered his brigade commanders and civilian directors to continue the discussion with their employees to address the impacts of extremism and to foster an environment free of discrimination, hate and harassment.
“There should never be bystander intervention,” Karbler said. “I would rather have something to the effect of ‘give-a-damn’ intervention because none of us should be bystanders if we see any of these things happen. This comes down to our conduct as professionals… we are a professional organization, and we should take a lot of pride in how we present ourselves. I would ask for your continued professionalism as we go about doing our business.”
Karbler asked his team to address or correct on the spot beliefs or view that run counter to Army Values.
“If you see, hear or read about any extremism-related activity that is coming from a member of our command, report it,” Karbler said.
Karbler, alongside Army leaders, reiterated that extremism is unacceptable in the Army and that the Army’s number one priority is its people. The Army-wide stand down is designed to enable Army military and civilian personnel to recognize, deter and report incidents of discrimination, hate, and harassment in the ranks and understand how to further develop a climate wherein extremism will not be tolerated. The stand down will educate personnel to recognize and report indicators of extremism and identify when to take further action.
“We can rest assured that our Equal Opportunity and Equal Employment Opportunity advisers are supporting each team member and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability or national origin,” Karbler said. “And it’s important we understand this is a shared effort that we all must participate in. On this ‘People First’ team, our diversity is a strength; that’s a fact.”
USASMDC’s Military Equal Opportunity program manager, Sgt. 1st Class Manuel Romo, said the Army has always been a values-based organization and that harmful behaviors and activities degrade the Army’s ability to build cohesive teams and can impact Army readiness.
“It is important for everyone to be aware of the warning signs of personnel exhibiting extremist behavior,” Romo said. “Extremism attacks at the very core of our Army values and has no place within the Army.”
Romo said character matters inside the organization and that the Army will not tolerate extremism, racism, and sexual assault and harassment in its formations.
“In almost every case study that was presented during the stand down, the extremist wanted to harm or kill innocent Americans,” Romo said. “By being vigilant, we will be protecting the lives of everyone on our squad.”
Romo said it is everyone’s responsibility to remain vigilant for extremist behavior.
“We all have a duty to one another to report any possible extremist behavior to the chain of command or a supervisor so they can take action,” Romo said. “Remember, failure to report has a negative impact on the unit or organization. Command climate suffers, groups become polarized, corrosive behaviors undermine confidence in the unit, and readiness is degraded.”
Romo said participation in extremism may lead to violence. He added that some indicators of individual escalation toward extremism include clear identification with or support for extremist or hate-based ideology; making or attempting to make contact with extremist groups; the possession and/or distribution of extremist literature or paraphernalia; and threatening, intimidating, harassing, or harming of others consistent with extremism or hate-based ideology.
“While such conduct may not constitute ‘active participation,’ such signs offer an indicator for commands, prompting action and intervention that can avoid active participation down the road,” Romo said.
He said some people decide to engage in extremist behavior because of financial, political, religious or ideological reasons, but that no matter the reasoning someone gives for joining an extremist group, the beliefs are not in line with Army Values, and have no place in the organization or the Army.
“Extremist activity within the past year revealed two common threads for the Soldiers identified as participating in extremist groups. First, that they are commonly isolated in their units, and second, they failed to fully integrate into Army life,” Romo said. “By putting our people first, and addressing the issue, we can prevent this from happening to other members of our team.”