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A retired Army Ranger said the military was a melting pot that had already rooted out racist tendencies even before the Pentagon started launching initiatives.
The Department of Defense under Secretary Lloyd Austin took several steps to eliminate extremism from the service and increase fairness. But extremism and racism are not problems in the ranks, because such beliefs are incompatible with unit cohesion – a necessary element for victory in combat, former Ranger Jariko Denman told FoxNews.
“As an individual, you are not important,” he said. “The mission is important, and your teammates are important.”
“You always put your teammate before yourself,” added Denman, who served 20 years in the military.
PENTAGON LAUNCHES AN “EQUITY” PLAN
More recently, the Pentagon released its “Equity Action Plan,” which aims to “establish a holistic strategy to continue cultivating lasting and equitable change.” This was part of the Pentagon’s assessment “to identify potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals face,” the report said.
The plan outlines actions the department will take, such as seeking “new investments in underserved communities around military bases and installations” and driving “towards more equitable outcomes for students of color, students with disabilities, and other underserved students in DoD schools.”
“While the Department has historically focused on increasing equity within the DoD community, the collective actions outlined in this plan represent a shift in the Department’s approach and focus to better ensure that we are leveraging our capabilities to create opportunity for all Americans,” the report said. .
The plan also includes a “summary of accomplishments,” which notes how Austin last year issued a one-day restraining order “to discuss the principle that all who support the DoD mission deserve an environment free of discrimination. , hatred and harassment.”
A 2017 Military Times survey found nearly a quarter of soldiers surveyed said they had witnessed white nationalism in the ranks. The publication reported similar results in subsequent polls.
Denman said racism and other forms of bigotry are most often seen in new recruits who have never been exposed to a diverse population. But those preconceptions disappear soon after joining the military melting pot, the retired Ranger said.
“People come from all walks of life to come into the military,” Denman, who retired in 2017, told Fox News. “People who came up with some of those views – they were racist, they were sexist, they were homophobic – it didn’t take them long to lose it.”
“All the kind of ignorance that leads to extremist behavior gets crushed because you’re immersed in all these other cultures,” Denman added. “You’re immersed with all these other types of people.”
Austin’s removal order “also included a focus on how extremist or dissenting ideologies violate core principles of the Department,” the equity plan says.
“The overwhelming majority of those who serve in uniform and their civilian colleagues do so with great honor and integrity, upholding our core military values and swearing to uphold and defend the United States Constitution,” Major said. Charlie Dietz, Pentagon spokesman, to Fox News. . “However, we owe all of our people an environment free of prohibited extremist activity, and we owe our country an army that reflects the founding values of our democracy.”
More than 30 current and former military personnel, including Denman, said they had never witnessed extremism in the ranks, Fox News reported in a previous investigation. The Pentagon and outside groups have repeatedly failed to produce evidence that the military is a breeding ground for violent radicals, Fox News found.
“To see all these people from all walks of life, different races, different creeds, different sexual orientations, all of this, doing great things together, and then seeing our government come in and say ‘the military has a problem with extremism’ , it’s a slap in the face,” said Denman, who came from a military family.
The Department of Defense has identified fewer than 100 cases of confirmed extremist activity in 2021, the Pentagon reported in December. He did not provide a specific figure or identify specific cases.
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“While we know that case rates of extremist activity prohibited by military service have been in the double digits for the past few years, we believe we can still do better,” Dietz said. “Our servicemen are worth it. And good order and discipline demand it.”
In response to the Pentagon’s conclusion and the withdrawal order, service members told Fox News that spending time rooting out extremism could hurt combat readiness.
“For us to focus organizational energy within the military on issues that don’t exist is worrisome,” Denman said.