The Pentagon is probing how extremist groups are recruiting new members among the military, making a particularly “aggressive” effort to attract members who are about the leave the service.
“Some of these groups are very organized. They very aggressively recruit soon-to-be-veterans,” Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said at a press conference on Monday.
Rooting out radicalization in the military has been a top priority for defense officials, particularly after the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol. The FBI has since arrested dozens of suspects, some of whom worked for law enforcement agencies at the time or are former military personnel.
Officials believe that extreme ideology coupled with advanced military training has emboldened former members of the military to pledge their support to right-wing groups.
Kirby reminded military officials to “spend some time” and remind their troops of the oath they’ve taken to protect the nation’s Constitution and disavow “the behaviors that these kinds of ideologies can incite and inspire.” His comments echoed the sentiment of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who formally granted a 60-day window for military leaders to have these discussions with their subordinates.
Kirby said some members of the military might be encouraged to “take the oath again,” adding that the military will “need to look at how we’re educating potential recruits before they sign on the dotted line.”