Carrying shields, covering their faces, and holding upside down U.S. flags, marchers with the Alt-Right Neo-Nazi group "Reclaim America," chant the phrase "reclaim America," while marching near the Capitol, Saturday, May 13, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Dozens of Troops Suspected of Advocating Overthrow of US Government, New Pentagon Extremism Report Says

An annual Pentagon report on extremism within the ranks reveals that 78 service members were suspected of advocating for the overthrow of the U.S. government and another 44 were suspected of engaging or supporting terrorism.

The report released Thursday by the Defense Department inspector general revealed that in fiscal 2023 there were 183 allegations of extremism across all the branches of military, broken down not only into efforts to overthrow the government and terrorism but also advocating for widespread discrimination or violence to achieve political goals.

The statistics indicate the military continues to grapple with extremism following its public denunciations and a stand-down across the services ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in 2021. Furthermore, the numbers do not make it clear whether the military’s approach is working. In 2021, the year the data was first released to Congress, there were 270 allegations of extremist activities. In 2022, that figure dropped to 146 before rebounding over the past year.

The Army had the most allegations in fiscal 2023 with 130 soldiers suspected of participation in extremist activity. The Air Force suspected 29 airmen; the Navy and Marine Corps reported 10 service members each. For the first time, the inspector general also reported numbers for the Space Force as a separate entity from the other services — it suspected four Guardians of extremism.

The IG report also included instances of alleged criminal gang activity: There were 58 allegations of gang activity across the military.

However, the report did note that, out of all the suspected extremism and criminal gang activity, 68 of the total cases were investigated and cleared or deemed unsubstantiated.

In the U.S., extremist activity, including neo-Nazi, white supremacist and anti-government movements, has been growing, and numerous violent plots by veterans and even active-duty troops have been thwarted in recent years. Experts on extremist movements have warned about the growing potential of more violence and future attacks, similar to the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995 that killed 168 and was carried out by an Army veteran.

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