The Air Force’s top leaders on Thursday announced a new assessment of extremism in the service while calling on airmen and guardians to stand against extremist views.
“The vast majority of us – whether active duty, guard, reserve, or civilian – spends every day upholding our Nation’s laws, policies, and standards. However, there is a small subset who far short and are eroding the respect our Nation’s civilians have for its military,” read a letter signed by acting Air Force Secretary John Roth, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, Space Force Chief Gen. John Raymond and the chief master sergeants of the Air Force and Space Force.
“While the First Amendment of the Constitution recognizes freedom of expression, it is our obligation to stand against extremism, as we should with anything that threatens to undermine good order and discipline, trust, and our culture of respect.”
The Air Force will conduct a “comprehensive assessment of this issue,” the officials add.
The letter follows similar messages from leaders in the Army and Navy after Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Austin mandates vaccine for Guardsmen Austin orders all National Guard, Reserve troops to get COVID-19 vaccine or face loss of pay Gillibrand, bipartisan lawmakers push to keep military justice overhaul in NDAA MORE last week directed a U.S. military-wide “stand-down” to tackle extremism in the ranks.
Acting Army Secretary John Whitley on Wednesday called on the force to combat “corrosive behavior” including discrimination, extremist views and sexual harassment, while Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday on Tuesday urged the fleet to “eliminate conduct that is driven by extremist beliefs.”
Dangerous and violent extremist ideology, including white supremacy, has long been known to exist in the military but was brought to national attention after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol carried by supporters of former President TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE.
Of the 190 people charged in the insurrection, at least 30 are veterans and three are current National Guard members or reservists – nearly 20 percent of those charged.
The Air Force letter notes that guidance on the stand-down will come by Feb. 23.