Troops See White Nationalism As Bigger Threat To US Than Afghanistan And Iraq

news

With ISIS on the ropes after losing crucial strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa, U.S. service members are turning their attention to a domestic threat they see as more dangerous than the distant battlefields of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria: white nationalism in the ranks.


More than 30% of service members see white nationalism as a significant threat to national security, according to a Military Times poll of 1,131 troops between Sept. 7 and 25, weeks after violent clashes at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, launched the specter of extremism within the armed forces into the national spotlight. By comparison, only 27% said the same about Syria, 22% for Afghanistan, and 17% for Iraq — results that suggest a fighting force increasingly wary of domestic threats to good order and discipline.

Related: You Can’t Be Both A Service Member And An Extremist »

Every branch of the military currently prohibits association with extremist organizations inconsistent with both the responsibilities of service and the principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. But in 2008, an FBI report found that “white supremacist leaders are making a concerted effort to recruit active-duty soldiers and recent combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” suggesting that most hardcore extremist groups “have some members with military experience, and those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.”

After revelations that several key leaders of the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that heightened tensions in Charlottesville were veterans (or engaged in such activity while on active duty), the Department of Defense has sought to tighten recruitment restrictions to filter out potential extremist elements. According to the Military Times poll, 60% of active-duty troops “would support activating the National Guard or reserves to handle civil unrest arising from white nationalist activities” like Charlottesville.

Related: DoD Is Taking Steps To Keep White Nationalists, Neo-Nazis Out Of The Armed Forces »

Most interestingly, the data suggests that the issue of white nationalism isn’t a question of racism or social justice shaped by a service member’s personal experience within the military: Yes, 42% of non-white troops said “they have personally experienced examples of white nationalism in the military” compared to just 18% of their white colleagues. But given that 76% of those polled identified themselves as white, the stark relationship between white nationalism and foreign war zones as perceived threats suggests that service members of all races and background are currently on watch for the scourge within their ranks not as a bastion of racism, but a threat to the U.S. armed forces’ mission.

"You're always concerned with what's right in front of you," a retired Air Force colonel told Military Times. "What you saw happen in Charlottesville is right in your face. It's here in the U.S., as opposed to Pakistan or Syria."

WATCH NEXT:

Photo via Associated Press

On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.

Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.

In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/Pvt. Stephen Peters)

With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.

After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.

Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.

McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Andrew Ochoa)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.

The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.

They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.

It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.

Read More Show Less
(Reuters/Carlos Barria)

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.

Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."

"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.

Read More Show Less