Ten members of the Air Force were investigated for trespassing on the United States Capitol during the pro-Trump riot on January 6 that briefly shut down Congress, new extremism statistics show published in a report by the Inspector General of the Ministry of Defense.
The cases are among 281 investigations into suspected extremism in the military in the first nine months of this year, according to the surveillance report released Thursday. This is the first public disclosure of data on extremist activity and the service lines’ response since the riot. Data collection was required by the annual defense authorization legislation.
The Air Force declined to provide additional information on the 10 trespassing investigations and referred questions to the Justice Department. Some of these cases may have been resolved by the time the IG report was released.
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The only publicly known charges against an Air Force member related to the events of January 6 were against 19-year-old Aiden Bilyard, who was identified by federal officials months after the riot. At that time, he was in basic training. According to an Air Force statement, he was separated for a spurious enlistment days after the FBI interviewed him at Lackland Air Force Base. Federal officials arrested him on November 22. It is not known if he was among the 10 aviators listed in the report.
The IG collected raw data from each of the case services and then categorized it for its Extremism Report, which may refer to violent, racist or anti-democratic causes, groups or social movements. In recent years, examples of extremism among troops and veterans have ranged from participation in the January 6 riot to offensive social media posts and racist graffiti. It has also been reported in elite units as well as in basic formations. There have even been reports of the military trying to recruit others to join groups like the neo-Nazi division Atomwaffen.
However, the data and the report itself appeared incomplete.
Only the Air Force intrusion cases were linked to the Capitol riot by the watchdog report. Still, Military.com reported that at least five active duty members were present on January 6, including one from the Marine Corps and four from the Army and National Guard.
The IG found that data collection in the military is “inconsistent”. Overall, the report notes that while each service has taken steps to improve the tracking and reporting of extremism, clear direction from the Ministry of Defense is still needed.
“Military departments have reported problems with the compilation and validation of their data and in some cases the reported figures were contradictory,” the report said. “A clear definition of extremism reflected in the updated DoD training will allow military departments to identify, track and report allegations of prohibited activity.”
In total, the IG identified 294 allegations of extremist activity which led to 281 investigations and 92 cases where action was taken, including 83 referrals to civilian law enforcement agencies.
The army, navy and marine corps reported 70 allegations classified by the IG as racially motivated violence. These services also reported 73 allegations of anti-government extremism.
Meanwhile, most of the Air Force’s cases – 102 investigations – involved allegations that staff expressed support for extremist causes on social media, Air Force spokeswoman Ann said. Stefanek.
“Racism, bigotry, hatred and discrimination have no place in the Air Force. We are committed to maintaining a culture where all Airmen feel welcome and can thrive, ”Stefanek wrote in an email response.
None of the other services reported cases included in this category by the IG.
Asked about the discrepancies, a spokesperson for the IG office explained that each branch can define extremism for itself and cannot speak for Air Force classifications or their definitions.
So far, the military does not have a coherent definition of extremism. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters in late October that the Defense Department’s Counter-Extremism Task Force was in the process of creating a definition and its report was “nearing completion.” .
Ultimately, the allegations and investigations listed by the IG led to 92 cases where some sort of action was taken, including 83 referrals to civilian law enforcement agencies.
There was a court martial, 10 non-judicial sentences, 31 administrative actions and 18 unspecified sentences, according to the data.
But the IG did not identify how specific types of cases were resolved.
Meanwhile, the absence of clear guidelines from the DoD on what constitutes extremism has left each department to work in its own direction, according to the report.
The military requires reporting any extremist behavior to its criminal investigations division, while the Marines recently issued an order that provides “options for reporting prohibited activity.” The Navy is developing a system for tracking courts martial where extremism is involved, while the Air Force has modified its system for tracking cases to add a category for extremism.
This patchwork of reporting mechanisms and data repositories has created problems. Data from the Marine Corps and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service did not always match or do not agree with data from the Navy, according to the report.
The watchdog notes that until a unified policy is defined, the military “will continue to have inconsistent monitoring of disciplinary actions for participation in extremist organizations and activities; problems of identification and collection of data from several decentralized systems; and the difficulty in validating the accuracy of the data.
Related: What happened to the soldiers accused of taking the Capitol on January 6?
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