Neo-Nazis "stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they're inside, and they are hard-core," Department of Defense gang detective Scott Barfield said. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," he added. "That's a problem."
In 1996, following a decade-long rash of cases where extremists in the military were caught diverting huge arsenals of stolen firearms and explosives to neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations, conducting guerilla training for paramilitary racist militias, and murdering non-white civilians (see timeline), the Pentagon finally launched a massive investigation and crackdown. One general ordered all 19,000 soldiers at Fort Lewis, Wash., strip-searched for extremist tattoos.
But that was peacetime. Now, with the country at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military under increasingly intense pressure to maintain enlistment numbers, weeding out extremists is less of a priority. "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members," said Department of Defense investigator Barfield.
"Last year, for the first time, they didn't make their recruiting goals. They don't want to start making a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military, because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."
Barfield, who is based at Fort Lewis, said he has identified and submitted evidence on 320 extremists there in the past year. "Only two have been discharged," he said. Barfield and other Department of Defense investigators said they recently uncovered an online network of 57 neo-Nazis who are active duty Army and Marines personnel spread across five military installations in five states -- Fort Lewis; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Camp Pendleton, Calif. "They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military," Barfield said. "Several of these individuals have since been deployed to combat missions in Iraq."
Every year, the Army's Criminal Investigation Division conducts a threat assessment of extremist and gang activity among army personnel. "Every year, they come back with 'minimal activity,' which is inaccurate," said Barfield. "It's not epidemic, but there's plenty of evidence we're talking numbers well into the thousands, just in the Army." Last July, the white supremacist website Stormfront hosted a discussion on "Joining the Military."
"There are others among you in the forces," wrote one neo-Nazi in the Army. "You are never alone."
Pentagon Reduced to Recruiting Neo-Nazis
David Holthouse, Intelligence Report, July 8, 2006
A very informative report, in my humble opinion.
Note that national security is a complex concept. It is comprised of the security of all individual citizens. Will we be more secure when battle-hardened extremists come back home? Some, in fact, already have.
Personally, I strongly doubt that only white extremists use the military to acquire training. I would guess - and I have seen reports to that effect - that the same is done by criminal and extremist gangs of all descriptions.
And while we have gang graffiti in Baghdad - how soon is it before we get Baghdad-style atrocities in the US?