white supremacy in the military
Navy midshipmen march onto field ahead of an NCAA college football game between the Army and the Navy in Philadelphia. The military later investigated hand gestures used by cadets and midshipmen during the television broadcast of game for a possible link to white supremacy. 14 Dec 2019 (Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock)

Newly Unearthed Pentagon Report Examines White Supremacy Within Military Branches

A Pentagon report detailing the inroads that white supremacists have made into the military has recently come to light. Prepared by Pentagon officials in October of 2020 for Congressional review, the report was recently unearthed through a Freedom of Information Request by the editorial team at the Congressional newsletter CQ Roll Call.

According to Roll Call’s John M. Donnelly, the report, which “details the military’s efforts to keep extremists, particularly fascists, out of the military” offers suggestions on how the Pentagon can use government resources like the FBI to identify whether military recruits have ties to extremist groups and how they can be vetted during the recruitment process. The report also includes a large database of conversations conducted by current military members in an extremist online forum called “Iron March.” 

In the forum, members of various military branches talk freely about their interest and involvement in the white supremacy movement, without any fear of repercussion.

Donnelly said the report “paints a stark picture of white supremacist inroads in the U.S. military.” He added that it also “reveals several steps the Pentagon is now reviewing to kick such people out and help keep them out — from accessing an FBI database of extremist tattoos to improving security clearance questions.”

In their own story on the report, CNN’s Ellie Kaufman and Oren Liebermann wrote that while the report “concluded that extremist views were not widespread and identified ‘a low number of cases in absolute terms,’ it underlines the urgency of the problem because ‘individuals with extremist affiliations and military experience’ are a concern to U.S. national security because of their proven ability to execute high-impact events.”

Speaking with CNN, Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism said “There’s never been an acknowledgment from the top ranks that this has to be handled, so the fact that we now have that and there is an effort underway to do something is actually quite encouraging. Now, how well that’s done and executed and all the pieces are put in place, that’s a different question that we’ll have to wait and see what the results are.”

Kaufman and Liebermann also pointed out that while military members may not enter service as members of militant white supremist groups, they are among the top candidates these individuals try to bring in as new recruits.

“Current or former members of the military are primary targets for extremist groups, because members with military service give the groups legitimacy and bring ‘combat and tactical experience’ in order to carry out their attacks,” the pair wrote. “Access to service members with combat training and technical weapons expertise can also increase both the probability of success and the potency of planned violent attacks.”

According to Kaufman and Liebermann, “while members of the military are prohibited from ‘participating in or advocating for supremacist and other extremist ideology,’ right now there is no official military rule or regulation that service members identified as domestic extremists or white supremacists be required to leave the military, except in the Navy. The authors of the [Pentagon] report believe one should be added for all branches of military service.”

Roll Call’s Donnelly reported that Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a former member of the Armed Services Committee has said he plans to introduce legislation requiring the Pentagon to implement the report’s findings.

“What the report made clear is that white supremacists are using our military to further their hateful and violent agenda,” Aguilar said. “We need further collaboration between agencies like the [U.S. Department of Defense] and FBI to make sure that we’re keeping extremists away from our servicemembers and keeping our communities safe as well.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has also ordered an investigation into the matter and the Pentagon has created a “diversity task force” designed to find ways to keep “fascists out of the military.” Both those efforts are in their early stages and the results of their impact are not yet known, but the government will need all the help they can get as soon as possible; during a House hearing on Feb. 25 about the Capitol insurrection, acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman gave a testimony saying “We know that members of the militia groups that were present on Jan. 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible, with a direct nexus to the State of the Union.”



D.I. Fast Facts


Percent of the more than 230 men and women who have been criminally charged for the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 who are current or former military personnel.
CQ Roll Call



Number of active-duty personnel who have witnessed signs of white supremacy within military ranks
Military Times



Percent of current military personnel who consider white supremacy within military a threat, overshadowing North Korea (40.3%), immigration (21.4%) and the U.S. protest movements (33.1%)
Military Times


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


Latest News

woke politics

Republicans Launch a War on ‘Woke’ Politics in Hopes of Big Legislative Wins in 2022

In 2020, former President Barack Obama warned that the phrase “Defund the Police” could become a dangerous rallying cry for the conservative right. But now, Republicans have apparently taken that warning one step further, declaring war on all things “woke.” Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur of NBC News wrote that…

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…

AbbVie Joins Over 400 Leading US Employers in the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Business Coalition for the Equality Act’

Originally published on LinkedIn. AbbVie ranked No. 19 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.   AbbVie has joined a group of over 400 corporations and leading U.S. employers to support the Human Rights Campaign’s “Business Coalition for the Equality Act,” an initiative advocating for federal…