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Pentagon orders pause across military to address extremism, white supremacy in its ranks

"There may be cultural issues we have to deal with here” – Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

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Pentagon
Pentagon
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Updated: February 4, 2021 - 12:41pm

The Pentagon has announced a military-wide pause to allow commanders and troops to address extremism and white supremacy within the ranks.

The move comes after reports that current and former service members were involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Lloyd Austin, the first black Defense secretary, who recently took over at the Pentagon, directed each military branch to stand-down at some point within the next 60 days to discuss the threat from extremism, said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

Austin delivered the directive Wednesday at a meeting of the branches' leaders that included the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, and vice chairman Gen. John Hyten, Kirby also said.

"There wasn’t one being in the room that didn’t agree that there wasn’t a problem," Kirby said, according to NBC News. 

The Pentagon has studied the issue before but has never laid out a plan on how to deal with white supremacy and other extremism.

"We don’t know how we’re going to be able to get after this in a meaningful, productive, tangible way and that is why he had this meeting today and that is why he certainly ordered this stand down," Kirby said. "There may be cultural issues we have to deal with here."

It's not the first time the military has ordered a stand down, which requires every unit and every rank to pause their daily activity to deal with an issue.

Stand-downs were ordered to raise awareness among the ranks over suicide, sexual assault and racism.

In the stand down, each service, each company and each unit will be able to take the time to have discussions with service members, Kirby also said. 

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