New study shows why Republicans are wrong to dismiss extremism in the military

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Thirty-seven percent of those with military experience arrested for rioting at the U.S. Capitol had ties to violent extremists like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

According to the results of a study released by George Washington University and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Monday, those members of the mob of Trump supporters that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 who had military experience were four times more likely to have ties to domestic terror groups as those who did not.

The findings offer a response to recent arguments by Republican lawmakers that the Biden administration's efforts to fight extremism within the ranks is not based on any evidence that it exists.

The authors of the report, titled "This is War: Examining Military Experience Among the Capitol Hill Siege Participants," examined court documents connected with the arrests of people charged with storming the Capitol and identified 43 of those 357, or 12% of those charged, as having some form of military experience.

Of those 43, 40 had left the military before the riot and were veterans, and 16 individuals out of the 43, or 37%, had ties to violent extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

The authors of the study recommend that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs create a task force to "confront and combat extremism in the military community" and that it collect information "on criminal and non-criminal extremism-related incidents among active-duty service members and veterans."

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced in February that the all branches of the military would conduct a short "stand-down," a pause in normal activity to be used to tackle the issue of extremism in the ranks, within 60 days.

Republican House members have expressed concerns about the effort and downplayed the seriousness of the extremist threat within the military.

During a March 24 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-AL) said, "It is also important to point out that we lack any concrete evidence that violent extremism is as rife in the military as some commentators contend."

Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) asked, "Where's the data and evidence that suggests that extremism in any form is rampant, major and systematic, and is a problem?"

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) argued against the proceedings themselves and said, "Today the House Armed Services Committee is engaged in a review of constitutionally protected expression by our troops — how utterly weak of us."

He said the order from the Biden administration was an attempt by the left to advance the cause of "woke supremacy" and described the review as "total nonsense."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.