Examining extremism in the military

Nearly one out of 10 of the Capitol rioters arrested so far are veterans, so what is the military doing about extremism within its own ranks?
13:00 | 04/27/21

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Transcript for Examining extremism in the military
And 2020. To kidnap a governor and Michigan who planned to bomb a black lives matter protests in Nevada. The number of ambush style attacks against police in California had one thing in common. Active duty for former military members are all facing charges connected to these cases and it pleaded not guilty. People are talking about the concern. About white supremacists and militia as you know in the military for a long time. Extremist groups target veterans and military members because they want that training have been. In. I think shows that the capital insurrections pulled tactics straight for military action nearly one in ten other riders arrested so far received military training. This is just how deep do extremist ideologies of the lead into our forced us military didn't. Yeah. I've covered the military for decades and decades old conflict. And in the US them. I started the day on January 6 just covering that from rally and president trucks. I am right yeah condition avenue we've been here all morning there a number of veterans here who. I was very near this group called keepers. And they're the ones who clearly. Had some experience in politics and and this is very professional tactical gear this is not somebody who went to the army navy surplus store counts. And the veterans abdomen I'm not going back and because I got my hip blown up in Iraq. Okay Jim and that's a veteran. And these are guys just plain dress up. I was surprised and I was appalled. The veterans. Appalled. That someone who took canals to. Support and defend the United States against all enemies foreign. And to mess stick. Would be there as an enemy to that out. Prosecutors have said it footage filmed by these veterans filing charges against him. He pleaded not to. I think January 6 not the end of any. Full 12%. Of those who were arrested. Appear to have some background in the military you know veterans. Now I think that's a disproportionate number of those who may be extreme. But when you find extremists in positions of authority. In institutions. That are geared toward protecting all Americans. That's where there's a disproportionate. Impact. I think people have forgotten what that hope is. It is not an oath to a person it is not entitled to a party it is an oath to the constitution. You know a lot of veterans. Fall into this because they're vulnerable like I once was. I ended up attempting suicide the night before what would've been my second deployment. And I was kicked out of the army as a result. Instead of the military interpreting that as a symptom of peachy ST. When I got military and you know I went through a couple years of darkness. I I knew what it feels like to be angry and disillusioned and that's what a lot of these veterans are feeling. And that's. For many of them part of what led them down that terrible path and ended up and indeed insurrection in January 6. There's been a lot of emphasis put on true patriotism. Kind of flipping the script on the American narrative and saying if you're real American you wouldn't stand for what we're seeing the government doing. Right so that's appealing to people's love of country. Even though we know so many the extremists are actually trying to undermine our democratic us. For those veterans to. Fallen into the radical. They don't see the extremists. They're taken down in this extreme. Half. Step by step. My step by step. And all of these extremist organizations. Operated like cold Steve they allow their recruits to believe that their own path of discovery. It's deliberately laid out before them. Specific way. To separate them from reality. This is the capital insurrection. The Pentagon still hasn't released numbers for how many members were kicked out and disciplined every year due to extremist. The military doesn't have a handle this and military. Has looked at this is a problem. But they can't even really tell you numbers it it is extremely complicated because. There's first amendment rights. What can you force somebody to do and not do what can you join an extremist group. And be part of the military. This is about police and we're not trying to be the thought police but the Belize police this is about. The kinds of conduct and behavior that certain extremist ideology can inspire me and encouraged and emboldened inside the ranks. We are taking a fresh look at the kind of behavior or participation that extremists and extremist ideology inspires. Currently prohibited extremist activities that would trigger disciplinary action include active participation in extremist groups like fundraising recruiting leading are demonstrating. Many in the military are calling for clear definitions extremists. We having multi racial multi cultural diverse America and in in the military when it represents that as the best of however this type of extremism. Racism white supremacy. That is allowed to fester in the military happens because. Read allowance. Because military leadership many times feels just like I did as a young private then. What are we can do about it if we if we call out in the skies this thing is slap on the wrist and move on. PV shot is an Iraq War veteran and Muslim who experienced a wave of Islamic phobia and hatred and after speaking out against extremist. Following the fourth achievements in 2009. There was a lot of hate a lot of people who came around said that. I was. Plants and now is part of the Muslim Brotherhood you know or some other terrorist organization. I felt like my feeling was even in more danger all the sudden they were able to find out where we lived. Getting on posting your soldiers pretty easy and not every soldier has agreed when. Our stance and that was terrified. If confirmed Powell quite hard to step well sexual assault. And to ray our ranks of racist and extremist. And to create a climate where everyone fit and lowing. Has the opportunity to serve this country. With dignity. I think for Lloyd Austin this is a priority. Of the first African American. Secretary of defense. Who has experienced. Racism he has seen extremism. In the US military during his career. This some matters to him it matters a lot. The American public. Has high expectations of its military as it should. And the American public should know and understand that we're not afraid to take a look at ourselves. I really and truly believe. That many nine point 9%. Of our service men and women. Believe ago. They believe embrace of use two that we are focused aren't. And they're doing the right turns what I would just say good. Euro. Small numbers in this case can have an outsized impact. When secretary Austin's first quarters this department wide stand down. Requiring every branch of the military to hold events reminding officers of their posts and examining extremists. I think recent events and current events that we've seen in the media especially in January this year have made it clear that this is an issue we need to address. Eight break from training where we discussed extremists and ranks. And how this threats. Can eat at the very fabric of what needs to US military and our cohesion as a unit. I would be lying I said I am going to eradicate mad extremism in the ranks today. My goal today is at least to start conversely. To have our junior officers think about these issues. Think about how their ideology or their personal beliefs and work within a system that were into. There are some beliefs that are simply incompatible with military service and anti just give them the tools to identify and root this out before ideology becomes active purchase. Patient miniskirts. Fewest houses ideology and you're willing to act on that geology then you can't by default be an honorable member. Of the American military. And we would have an obligation. To make sure you can't continue that Serbs but again it's not rocket inside your it's about evaluating your conduct and behavior. The military's easy out would be just you know try to identify all the white supremacists that they can and kick them out that it reduced charges. Then you take away their economic opportunities. And you creed a military record that looks like being criminal record. New York and your guarantees. That you're going to be. Creating the next two missing him. I think it's a recognition. That the military they have a role to play two ashore. That's such a sacred institution. Is not turned into a place where extremists feel comfortable. I think they're all of them. Are clamoring for hours for some better more specific guidance about what it is extremists what is the extremist ideology what should we be looking for. And what doesn't. Active participation in the extremist groups are extremist affiliations what does that look like what does that mean and so one of the things that we're gonna do is. They take that he backing an update that the DOD instruction that covers. Extremism as a matter of definition. The Pentagon's first changes in response standouts include commissioning an extremist. To better understand the scope of the ash and standardizing the screening process to solicit information about extremists. Which potentially include social media questions. Dating back to G to civilian transition process. To include provisions specifically around extremist recruitment. As we get ready to make a veteran I'm as somebody begins to transition to civilian life after service whether that service ends after five or six years or. In my case a 29 years. That we are preparing them for what's on the other side because we know some extremists who are actively trying to recruit them. Veterans into their ranks. Extremist groups and militias have been on the rise in the past decade and their explicit about wanting veterans to join their ranks who. We're trying to obtain visas office and these reasons. For people to join the military to defend our country and try to say if you really want to defend our country and you're gonna join us. Because we're at the vanguard. They recognize. An opportunity to me use our patriotism against us. Me and using our desire for and a better healthier America. Against us. Frankly we need to get wise him and more they're gonna continue to head to try and drive Americans are by. Targeting troops advance. We're never going to be perfect and identifying every single individual you just can't look into the soul and heart of an individual and know right away but. If you're a good leader and you're you're making it not partly who are to know who your people. You'll have a better chance I think and helping to identify where the warning signs. I remain optimistic in a very difficult time. That patriotism the true patriotism. Among armed forces. Won't be one of those factors that helps push back against this hatred. But it starts and accountability.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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