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Defense Secretary Austin announces working group to counter 'extremism in the military'

Initiative will "more specifically define what constitutes extremist behavior."

Updated: April 9, 2021 - 5:29pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday announced a working group to address alleged "extremism" in the ranks of the U.S. military, with the initiative seeking in part, he said, to "more specifically define" extremism. 

In the announcement on the Department of Defense's website, the agency said that the duties of the Countering Extremism Working Group will include directives to "all military departments to update and standardize screening questionnaires to solicit specific information about current or previous extremist behavior," as well as a more specific definition of "what constitutes extremist behavior."

Military departments will also be directed to "add provisions to their service member transition checklists that include training on potential targeting of service members by extremist groups."

The move comes two months after Austin ordered military leaders to hold "stand-downs" with their troops and personnel in order to discuss matters of "extremism." 

The move also follows the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in which some members of the military participated and the National Guard was activated to quell. 

Military leaders will “use lessons learned from the stand-downs to enhance current reviews of training and education” on extremist behavior, Austin also said in the announcement.