While Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has ordered all branches of the military to identify extremism in the ranks, U.S. Army Special Operations Forces officials at Fort Bragg say none of its soldiers are ‘is known to belong to such groups.
In April, NBC News published a investigation claiming that extremist views and conspiracy theories are shared in anonymous Facebook groups with members who claim to be past or current members of the Special Operations Forces.
The NBC report does not name Facebook users who self-identified as special forces soldiers and does not say whether their military status has been verified.
A spokesperson for the US Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg said there were no known soldiers in the command units with links to extremist organizations.
“Soldiers are not allowed to affiliate with these corrosive organizations and leaders at all levels would be required to investigate the allegations and take appropriate action to ensure good order and discipline,” Colonel said. Command spokesperson TJ Rainsford.
Rainsford went on to say that the leaders of the special operations forces are working closely with judge lawyers and law enforcement to investigate allegations of wrongdoing and hold offenders accountable.
Rainsford referred to Army Article 600-200 Policy, which prohibits soldiers from participating in organizations that advocate violence and / or discriminatory behavior.
Rainsford said commanders at all levels have a variety of tools to ensure that soldiers who may have engaged in extremist behavior are held accountable, including penalties under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or administrative measures.
Members of other Facebook groups are questioning the context of NBC’s story.
A post shared on a public Facebook group that is not named in NBC history – Guardians of the Green Beret – called the report âa very biased journalist’s ax workâ and posted a link to another article titled âNBC Cherry Picks Facebook to Discredit Our Republic’s Ultimate Defendersâ.
The article was written by Matt Rowe, who said he was a Special Forces veteran and was among the groups NBC reported on.
As Rowe explains the difference between special forces soldiers and those who support those soldiers in special operations forces, he said retired and former special forces veterans do most of the detachment in groups, and not soldiers on active duty.
In the article, Rowe wrote that around 60% of the group’s members regularly post, and only a small amount espouse opinions such as believing in QAnon.
The FBI has called QAnon’s conspiracy theory a threat.
Its supporters believe that a liberal “deep state” of politicians, celebrities and business leaders, who are pedophiles, worked against former President Donald Trump.
Subscribers turn to “Q” ‘s online posts, which they believe to be an anonymous whistleblower, for advice on political developments.
Personally, Rowe said in his article, he never paid much attention to QAnon’s posts because he saw them as coming from a handful of extreme conspiracy theorists that other members of the group ridiculed or questioned out of curiosity.
Over the past year, the US Army Special Forces Command has fought rumors associated with some of the conspiracy theories.
In August, the 3rd Special Forces Group uploaded a photo to its social media pages that depicts a Special Forces soldier waving to a UH-60 Black Hawk during a training exercise.
Some social media users have questioned whether the signal, which appears as a neon ring in the photo, is a symbol for QAnon.
âIt was tweeted to highlight our 24/7 operational readiness, not as a signal of any kind,â said Captain Richard Dickson, spokesperson for the 3rd Special Forces Group.
In the wake of the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, rumors circulated online that Special Forces soldiers took the laptop of House President Nancy Pelosi.
The laptop was stolen from his office, his assistant Drew Hammill tweeted on January 8.
In a YouTube video, retired Air Force Lieutenant-General Thomas McInerney repeated the claim that Special Forces soldiers took Pelosi’s computer, according to USA TODAY.
A spokesperson for the United States Special Operations Command told USA TODAY in January that the command had not received reports from special forces or other special operations forces entering Capitol Hill to steal the Pelosi laptop.
McInerney also claimed in December that Special Forces seized election-related servers in Germany, according to USA TODAY and the Associated press.
Rainsford said the claim was a rumor.
With conspiracy theories gone, Rowe wrote in the American Thinker article that extreme language should not be confused with extremist or radical intent, and that, based on his observations, members of the group denounce and discourage any racist comments. .
He said the racists would not last long as a large portion of Special Forces soldiers work with different races across the world.
The Defense Ministry took a stand after the January 6 riots on the Capitol.
“DOD policy expressly prohibits military personnel from actively defending the doctrine, ideology or causes of supremacist, extremist or criminal gangs,” according to a Jan. 14 statement. declaration by Gary Reed, director of defense intelligence (counterintelligence, law enforcement and security).
During January 19 from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmation hearing, he said he would work to rid the military ranks of racists and extremists.
In February, Austin issued a 60-day stand-down directive for commanders to discuss extremism in the ranks with the military.
Rainsford said all soldiers attended trainings organized by commanders, judge lawyers and law enforcement on extremism, as per Austin’s directive.
âThis withdrawal was the first initiative to better educate soldiers about the problem and how we are going to eliminate it,â Rainsford said. âThe stand-down event addressed the impacts of extremism and the responsibilities of the commands to create an environment free from discrimination, hatred and harassment to avoid harming the military and honoring the trust of the American people. ”
In August, the Trauma 3 Special Operations Medical Course changed its unofficial logo to look like the one used by an extremist group.
A student in the course reported that it looked like a symbol used by the extremist group Three Percent.
According to Anti-Defamation League, Three Percenters is part of the militia movement, which supports the idea of ââa small number of dedicated “patriots” protecting Americans from government tyranny. The concept is based “on an inaccurate historical claim that only 3% of Americans fought in the Revolutionary War against the British,” according to the Anti Defamation League.
U.S. Army spokeswoman John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg said Military.com that the unofficial logo, which bore the Roman numerals III and 13, was used to represent the course and members of the cadre being part of the course.
The logo was never officially adopted, said Janice Burton, spokesperson for the war center and school.
The Three Percenters logo was among 14 logos – including the QAnon symbols – that officials and the center and school discouraged soldiers from displaying during a presentation in February.
Burton told the Fayetteville Observer that the center and school and Army Special Operations Forces have a culture and history of developing logos and symbols of small patriotic units for esprit de corps and cohesion. units.
Because some extremist organizations adopt similar images and symbols, Burton said, the command has taken deliberate steps to educate and inform the force about the symbols and logos used by extremist organizations to prevent inadvertent use of similar symbols.
The command “made it clear to its members that there was no room for extremism and racism in our training – in the wake of the broader DoD and military efforts,” Burton said.
Burton said the center and the school “have a history of self-identification and correcting the use of symbols and logos that can be misinterpreted as being affiliated with extremist organizations.”
She said the commanders of each unit at the center and at the school stressed that the goals of extremist organizations are incompatible with the values, goals and beliefs of the military.
âOur leaders discussed this information with their soldiers to better educate them on current offensive symbols and logos,â she said. “The commanders further reminded the soldiers that they represent the army, both on and off duty.”
Editor-in-Chief Rachael Riley can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3528
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