Causes of Spike in US Military Extremism Explored in New Study | Voice of America


New look at current and former members of the U.S. military linked to extremist plots reveals the number has tripled, largely due to a string of recent events such as the January 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol , which helped mobilize extremists in general.

The University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) analysis, released Wednesday, looked at 354 people with military backgrounds charged with or convicted of crimes related to the extremist ideology.

He found that the average number of cases rose from six per year from 1990 to 2010 to almost 21 cases per year over the past decade. This increase is largely due to the peaks of 2017, 2020 and 2021.

“Each of these years has been marked by problems that mobilized a relatively large number of American extremists,” the study said. “These include the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017; the COVID-19 pandemic, the protests for racial justice and the US presidential election in 2020; and the breach of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

FILE – Smoke fills the aisle outside the Senate Chamber as violent rioters loyal to President Donald Trump confront United States Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol in Washington on January 6 2021.

He revealed that among these events the main driving force was the siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump trying to prevent Democrat Joe Biden’s certification from being elected.

Nearly 15% of the 563 people indicted in connection with the siege have ties to the U.S. military, although analysis indicates the vast majority were no longer on active military service at the time.

The START study further found that over 78% of those with a military background and linked to extremist plots were no longer serving in the military when they radicalized or were arrested.

“The majority of extremists in the United States have no military experience,” said Michael Jensen, co-author, in a statement on the report’s findings. “Of those who do, most of the individuals in our data have become radicalized after leaving the military. So when we talk about the problem of extremists of military origin, it is above all a problem among veterans.

Consistent with previous reports

The findings of the new START analysis appear to be consistent with previous reports on extremism in the ranks of the US military.

Research from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published in April found that the number of active or reserve service US military personnel involved in such plots or terrorist attacks was small but increasing.

“The data should serve as a caveat,” CSIS wrote at the time. “These challenges will persist as extremist networks seek to integrate their members into the military and law enforcement and actively recruit current and retired personnel.

Small but growing US troops linked to domestic terrorist plots

Two new reports raise concerns over worrying trends and a lack of data just days after the Defense Ministry announced new measures to eradicate extremism in the ranks

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has made the fight against extremism in the ranks a top priority. In April, he issued a memorandum calling for immediate changes to prevent extremist groups from infiltrating the military, as well as increased training for personnel preparing to leave military service.

“The vast majority of those who serve in uniform and their civilian colleagues do so with great honor and integrity, but any extremist behavior in the force can have a disproportionate impact,” Austin wrote.

Pentagon plan targets extremism in the ranks

The US Secretary of Defense sets out immediate actions, warning that even a small number of extremists “can have a disproportionate impact”, following a pullout of the entire military called in the wake of the attack on the Capitol on January 6.

Pentagon officials say they have evidence that extremist groups have attempted to infiltrate the military and recruit active duty members.

But at least an effort to determine how far extremists have burrowed into the U.S. military has run into trouble.

A report by the Defense Ministry’s acting inspector general said the work of a new military watchdog has been hampered by funding shortfalls and potential conflicts of interest.

Pentagon’s new watchdog faces ‘significant challenges’ in internal counter-extremism effort

Newly released report by Acting Department of Defense Inspector General warns of underfunding, conflicting demands

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