On the heels of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, President Joe Biden’s newly confirmed secretary of defense has ordered a military-wide “stand down” to address white nationalism in the military’s ranks.
The move: A Pentagon spokesperson announced the decision on Wednesday, after defense secretary Lloyd Austin met with military branch leaders, Reuters reported.
- During his confirmation hearing last month, Austin stressed the importance of purging “racists and extremists” from the armed forces.
- Austin became the nation’s first black Pentagon chief after taking office in late January.
- Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Austin’s order is meant to allow military leaders to communicate that the armed forces will not tolerate extremist ideology or white supremacism.
What will the order actually do? The stand down will result in a military-wide pause on activity so that troops and their leaders can focus on addressing the issue of extremism.
- Kirby seemed to acknowledge the plan’s details are still hazy.
- “We don’t know how we’re going to be able to get after this in a meaningful, productive, tangible way and that is why he had this meeting today and that is why he certainly ordered this stand-down,” the military spokesman told reporters on Wednesday.
The bigger picture: Biden was considered by many to be a relative moderate compared to his Democrat peers in the 2020 presidential primary.
- But several initiatives and actions in the early days of the president’s administration have sparked accusations from conservatives that Biden is a radical in moderate’s clothing.
- In a recent column for the New York Post, National Review editor Rich Lowry said Biden is “further to the left of his ex-boss, former President Barack Obama, and further to the left of any Democrat who made his career prior to the ascendency of the cultural left.”