President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for defense secretary, Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, made it clear during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he would work to rid the military of “racists and extremists.”
He cruised through his confirmation hearing and is expected to be confirmed. The retired four-star Army general also pledged to recuse himself from matters involving defense contractor Raytheon Technologies, where he was a board member for four full years.
Austin stated in his opening remarks:
“We also owe our people a working environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment. If confirmed, I will fight hard to stamp out sexual assault, to rid our ranks of racists and extremists, and to create a climate where everyone fit and willing has the opportunity to serve this country with dignity. The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”
That statement comes as twelve National Guardsmen have been removed from Inauguration Day duties over possible links to extremists. Those charges have not been adequately clarified.
Two of the individuals were flagged due to “inappropriate” comments and texts. The other ten were removed for questionable behavior found in the vetting process. Although the justification for their removal remains in doubt, that is only twelve out of 25,000 Guardsmen. There was no threat to President-elect Biden according to a report from the AP.
Democrats have been in a panic in recent days over what they claim are extremists in the military. This is due to the fact that veterans and active-duty members of the military were identified at the pro-Trump protest on Capitol Hill on January 6 that devolved into a riot. The level of fear over this is unfounded but is being echoed all over the left. Austin is capitalizing on that fact.
Austin was vetted at his hearing by Democrats on what he would do to root out extremists in the ranks of the military.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said, “I have been deeply alarmed, as have many of my colleagues by the rise of white supremacists and extremist ideology in the military,” adding that he and 13 senators had sent a letter to the Pentagon inspector general last week asking for an “immediate and intensive investigation” of the prevalence of white supremacy and extremist ideology in the ranks.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) quoted former President Ulysses S. Grant from 1875 on the possibility of another civil war: “If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Masons and Dixons but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other.”
He then dramatically added, “Those words are very chilling, as we contemplate what we saw in this Capitol on the 6th of January. We saw ambition, we saw superstition.”
According to Kaine, a 2019 Military Times analysis found that 36 percent of active duty service members have seen evidence of white supremacist and racist ideologies in the military. He asked Austin what kind of training he would suggest for service members that would result in a military “immune from superstition and not so gullible as to fall for these false ideologies.”
In his opening remarks for his confirmation hearing, Gen. Lloyd Austin (ret), President-elect Biden’s nominee to be DOD Secretary, pledged to “fight hard… to rid our ranks of racists and extremists.”
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) January 19, 2021
Austin replied that leaders need to be trained to be in touch with their troops to understand “who they are, what they are doing, what they are reading,” and be aware of signs that could indicate something is going wrong.
“I think our leaders need to be able to talk to their subordinates and instill in them the right types of values — the values our military and country embraces, and failure to adhere to those values means you should not be a part of our formation,” he emphatically stated.
Kaine spouted that the “enemy within” is the “most destructive in terms of the ability to defend ourselves.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) also said he is concerned “now more so than ever before” about extremists being recruited into the military.
Austin declared that racist or extremist behavior in the military is “absolutely unacceptable.” He has yet to define exactly what ‘racist’ or ‘extremist’ means in this context.
“I will want the leaders of all the services and all of the departments to make sure that they’re doing the right things to set the right example and to create the right climate that discourages and eliminates that type of behavior,” he said.
“And this is not something we can be passive on. This is something I think we have to be active on and we have to lean into it and make sure we’re doing the right things to create the right climate,” Austin stated.
Austin also used his opening remarks to stress he will uphold civilian control “as intended.”
“I intend to surround myself with and empower experienced, capable civilians who will enable healthy civil-military relations, grounded in meaningful oversight,” he said. “Indeed, I plan to include the undersecretary of defense for policy in top decision-making meetings, ensuring strategic and operational decisions are informed by policy.”
“I will rebalance collaboration and coordination between the Joint Staff and the [Office of the Secretary of Defense] staff to ensure civilian input is integrated at every level of the process,” he added. “And I will make clear my expectation that the Pentagon work hand-in-glove with the State Department, supporting the work of our diplomats.”
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