Army Has ‘No Room for Extremism of Any Kind’

Army Has ‘No Room for Extremism of Any Kind’

Photo by: U.S. Army photo/Sgt. 1st Class Teddy Wade

The Army’s top general had a stern warning for soldiers who harbor extremist views as the service continues to battle “corrosive behaviors” in the ranks.

“There’s no room for extremism of any type in the United States Army,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said. “That’s just where we stand, and if you’re an extremist, you need to go somewhere else. We don’t need you in the United States Army.”

Speaking Feb. 17 at a webinar hosted by the Heritage Foundation, McConville said the Army is looking at issues such as extremism, racism and sexual assault and harassment in the ranks. In addition, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a one-day stand-down across the military to discuss extremism in the ranks.

In a Feb. 5 memo, Austin directed commanding officers and supervisors at all levels to conduct the daylong event within the next 60 days. Leaders are to include discussions about the importance of the oath of office, a description of impermissible behaviors, and procedures for reporting suspected or actual extremist behaviors.

This may not be a big problem, McConville said. “We like to think there’s not many, but we want to make sure,” he said.

Still, even a few extremists can be a problem. McConville described extremism, racism and sexual harassment and assault as “corrosive issues that hurt our soldiers, and they break trust with the American people, and we cannot have them in our Army."

“If you’re one of those who are doing these types of things, you are not authorized to do that in our Army,” McConville said. “You are not authorized to bring discredit to our Army and taint the incredible heroism of those who’ve gone before us, the legacy of those who came before us. You have an obligation, when you put on this uniform, to live up to the legacy of those who’ve gone before us.”

The Army is taking these issues very seriously, McConville said. “We’re very blessed that we’re a very well-respected institution in the United States, but we should not take that for granted,” he said. “We have to earn the trust of the American people every single day, and if we have these corrosive behaviors in our Army, we will lose that trust.”