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Radicals in the Ranks? Not so much…

There’s more weeping and gnashing of teeth over in the liberal camp these days. And it’s not all about the tepid polling numbers of their presumptive presidential candidate. That’s a persistent low-grade fever. What’s spiking angst this time is a Pentagon study that says our American military is not chockablock with radical right-wing extremists as the perennial anti-military crowd has loudly claimed for years.

Turns out in a study released—very quietly—late last year that there is no evidence to support claims by some in Congress as well as many major media sources, that our military ranks are shot through with anti-establishment types lurking around and fomenting insurrection. The study conducted by the independent Institute for Defense Analysis concludes that there are no more violent extremists in military uniform than there are in the American public at large. Sure, there are some serious radicals wearing our military uniform but no more than the number of similar whack-jobs wearing jeans and sneakers on the other side of the fence. And in relative numbers, that’s significant.

As anyone who has served in our military knows, this canard was crapola from the start. The charges of violent extremism permeating the ranks stem from the Capitol Hill incidents on Jan. 6, 2021. A fair number of active duty or military-affiliated people were involved in all that turmoil. No one is denying that, but it was politically driven pressure on Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that led him to order studies into extremism in the ranks. That’s understandable but disappointing to me.

The man is a retired Army four-star general who should be expected to stand up for Rudy in the Rear Ranks, not have him studied and analyzed as a potential insurrectionist in uniform. But that’s water under a badly sagging bridge at this point. And viewed as a positive step from the top of the Pentagon pile, maybe there was some value in all the probing and analysis. At least we now have solid evidence that our military is not what many press reports have called “breeding ground for domestic terrorism.”

In fact, a good look at the numbers revealed in the IDA report and a few others of similar mandate, provides solid proof that our American military is still the solid bulwark of national principles and ideals that it’s always been. Defense Department figures show less than 100 cases involving extremist activities have been charged in recent years. And that’s a broad brush. What constitutes “extremist activity” might be anything within a wide range of conduct counter to elements of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Some press reports would have us believe that somehow indicates our military is home to a festering den of the Ku Klux Klan.

That’s just not the case as judicial records from all the services prove. Court-martials involving extremist activities were somewhere around 20 per year across the board in 2022. And a number of those legal proceedings involved gang-related offenses which are typically criminal and not political at all. If you strike court-martials for gang offenses, the number of military people who faced charges of extremist activity falls to insignificance, about one per year throughout the services.

A brief review of the Manual for Courts Martial shows at least four punitive articles that can be used to bring gangbangers and the occasional political miscreant up on charges that would likely result in serious time behind bars at Leavenworth. Very probably a stiffer and more punitive sentence than the same criminal would receive from civilian courts.

The picture changes a bit when prior service veterans are considered but our military can’t be and shouldn’t be expected to take responsibility for what a man or woman gets up to once they shed the uniform. The real problem with all this social experimentation and study within our military ranks is that it creates an underlying air of paranoia. A man or woman in uniform these days can’t be blamed for wondering if they are supporting and defending a nation that thinks they are somehow not trustworthy. Those of us who know that our military often reflects the best aspects of our society need to let our voices be heard in support of the American military. It’s an admirable culture that keeps good men and women away from radical fringes. Unlike other sectors of society, our military unites all races and creeds with a common purpose. In these days of divisive and polarizing upheaval, that’s something to be celebrated and supported. The pearl-clutching liberals who claim society is threatened by military-trained radical guerillas just waiting for the day to mount a coup can relax. Although they aren’t likely to do that. Those folks will continue to believe what they want to believe despite evidence to the contrary. And that evidence says our American military is one of a few remaining rock-solid touchstones of selfless service and patriotism.


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