For those no longer on active duty or civilian employee of DOD, you haven’t had a chance yet to received your “extremism training.” Thanks to the Salamander underground, we now have a copy for everyone.
On a scale of 1 to 10 where a “1” is a solid, well done presentation, and a “10” is an intellectually sloppy, ham-fisted, neo-zampolit led struggle session, I will give this a 6 … edging towards a 7.
It was a huge lost opportunity. Officially, this was in response to the storming of the Capitol on 06 JAN. For those who did not catch my comments at the time, you can read them here and here. There would not have been a standdown without that event, but a broader net was thrown, which is understandable.
Here is the rub; for most of the American public – which is reflected in the broad sweep of DOD uniformed and civilian personnel – the lived experience of extremist activity over the last year was not limited to the events of January.
In their hometowns and that of family and friends, for months they saw Federal court houses attacked, police stations burned, entire cities shut down, businesses destroyed, people raped and murdered in lawless areas, and even “autonomous zones” set up in major cities – including Washington DC - with armed groups enforcing their diktats. These were politically driven just like as the attack on the capitol … but you don’t see that in the training, anywhere. This was an intentional oversight and mistake
By not reflecting the reality of political violence as experienced by all servicemembers and only focusing on one part of it, it validates the opinion of those who claim DOD has become politicized. Combined with such things as the Chief of Naval Operations endorsing the writing of an anti-American, sectarian, and hyper-political writer such as Kendi, it undermines the entire Chain of Command’s attempt to maintain a standing of a non-political, neutral, and broad visioned organization.
This is another own goal and lost opportunity. By not speaking to the full reality, we opened the door for bad actors to exploit the laughably obvious gap.
Some troops have drawn equivalencies between the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and last year's protests for racial justice during recent stand-downs to address extremism, worrying the military's top enlisted leader.
In a Thursday briefing with reporters at the Pentagon, Ramón "CZ" Colón-López, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that some troops have asked, when the Jan. 6 riot is brought up, "How come you're not looking at the situation that was going on in Seattle prior to that?"
He said that is one example of the mindset many military leaders are encountering, and he is "concerned about the way that some people are looking at the current environment."
"This is coming from every echelon that we're talking to," he added.
Colón-López said the confusion some younger troops have expressed shows why the training sessions on extremism are needed.
No, they are not confused – you are blinkered. By refusing to try to understand their concerns and directly address them, you are failing as a leader.
Speaking of the Salamander Underground, I’ve had some fun interactions on the topic with a few of you who have gone through the training. I am happy to hear that you made the most of it. Some of the young’uns even threw a spanner in the works and had a facilitator or two get flustered by asking very fair questions about the unbalanced presentation. BZ. Keep it up, you’ll have more opportunities in the years to come.