Biden’s Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, a retired US general, stated on Tuesday that he would “rid” the military of “racists and extremists.”
During testimony for his confirmation before the Senate Armed Service Committee, Austin stated that he would be fighting to clean out sexual assault, racism, and extremism among the military ranks.
“If confirmed, I will fight hard to stamp out sexual assault, to rid our ranks of racists and extremists, and to create a climate where everyone fit and willing has the opportunity to serve this country with dignity,” said Austin.
“The job of the Department of Defence is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks,” continued Austin.
Austin stated that he will advocate more communication between leaders and soldiers in order to counter the “threat of racism and extremism” within the military, including going as far as monitoring what soldiers are reading.
“I think that we have to train our leaders to make sure that they are in touch with the people they are leading, what they are doing, what they are reading,” said Austin
“Failure to adhere to those values means you should not be part of our formation,” concluded Austin.
Earlier, the Department of Defense announced that several members of the National Guard have been removed from their posts in DC because of alleged “far-right extremist ties.”
At least two of the Guardsmen were removed due to “inappropriate comments or texts.”
“We’ve had 12 identified and some of those, they’re just looking into,” , said Chief of the National Guard Bureau Daniel Hokanson.
Hokanson also added that their alleged inappropriate behavior could be completely unrelated to any extremist connections. “But we want to make sure out of an abundance of caution, that we do the right thing.”
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller stated that the FBI will be conducting any vetting of Guardsmen stationed in DC for the inauguration. “As is normal for military support to large security events, the Department will vet National Guardsmen who are in Washington, D.C,” said Miller.
Miller also stated that this type of security measures were normal procedures for “significant security events,” but stated that the number of Guardsmen in DC was not typical for an inauguration.
Austin, if confirmed, would be the first black Defense Secretary and the third retired general since 1947 to hold the position. He will require a waiver, as the rules require seven years removed before accepting a civilian government position.