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Feb. 18, 2021
Notes from the Pentagon

Navy memo on anti-extremism stand-down

By Bill Gertz
A Navy message to all sailors and Marines outlines some of the Biden administration’s thinking regarding combating radicalism within the services, following Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin‘s call for a stand-down throughout the military on “extremism.”

“Extremist conduct is contrary to good order and discipline, and erodes the faith and trust of American citizens and those sailors, Marines and civilian personnel affected by it,” according to an “AlNav,” a message to all Navy Department personnel from acting Navy Secretary Thomas W. Harker.

The Feb. 12 memo states that ill-defined “extremism,” “supremacy” and gang-related activity are prohibited for all service members.

Commanders have been given the power to “employ the full range of administrative and disciplinary actions including administrative separation or appropriate criminal action, to sanction sailors or Marines who actively participate in any supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang organizations,” according to a copy of the message obtained by Inside the Ring.

Critics fear the anti-extremism campaign will be used to purge conservatives of all stripes in the ranks.

The military remains a stronghold for those holding patriotic and traditional conservative views, and some fear the anti-extremism campaign will unfairly target those who are conservative but not extremist in a bid to move the military in a leftward direction.

For example, service members opposed to the Biden administration’s policies favoring gay personnel and now transgender individuals in the ranks, based on their religious views opposing those behaviors as immoral, could be labeled as “extremist” and expelled.

Mr. Harker told Inside the Ring that the Navy is dedicated to core values of honor, courage and commitment and the message is “not about discouraging anyone’s political beliefs.”

“Those who would support the use of violence against their fellow citizens with whom they disagree have no place in the naval service,” he said. Those who violate their oath or who advocate illegal discrimination also should not serve, he added.

“Our sailors and Marines serve with respect for each other, for law and for the nation they represent,” he said.

Commanders have authority to tailor internal discussions but must reinforce core Navy tenets of “honor, courage and commitment,” the message states.

And several topics must be included in the sessions, according to the guidance, including the importance of enlistment oaths to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.

“Accordingly, we will not tolerate actions that violate the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies,” the message says.

“Sailors, Marines and civilian personnel who support our mission deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate and harassment.”

Prohibited behavior includes actively advocating “supremacist, extremist, criminal gang doctrine ideology, or causes that advance, encourage or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex (including gender identity or sexual orientation), religion, ethnicity, or national origin; or [actions] that advance, encourage or advocate the use of force, violence or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.”

Military personnel also cannot actively participate in organizations that “attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex (including gender identity or sexual orientation), religion, ethnicity or national origin, or advocate the use of force, violence or criminal activity in furtherance thereof.”

Banned activities include fundraising, taking part in demonstrations or rallies, recruiting, training, organizing or leading members, distributing material online, wearing gang colors or clothing, having gang tattoos or any activities furthering the groups’ objectives.

Military personnel also are banned from taking part in off-base demonstrations if on active duty or in a foreign country, or if the activities breach law and order or if violence is likely.

Navy civilians, while not subject to military law, must refrain from threatening speech and speech that incites lawless action or violates Navy equal employment opportunity policy.

“It is the responsibility of leaders at all levels to maintain an environment free of extremism and to establish procedures for reporting suspected or actual extremist behaviors,” the message states.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger must report on the results of the stand-down by its termination date of April 6. The message also recommends that Navy and Marine Corps leaders should consider having lawyers present during the stand-down sessions.

A group of former arms designers who built secret weapons at Lockheed Martin‘s famed Skunk Works and for other contractors have built a small portable jet that could help the nation recover from an electromagnetic pulse event, such as a solar storm or nuclear blast that knocks out all electronics over thousands of miles.

Transcendent Aerospace designed the stealthy SJ-1 and S-2 single- and twin-engine aircraft for general aviation but recently shifted to military production.

The jets can be armed with 30-millimeter cannon for close air support and are so quiet that they create hardly any sound at 1,000 feet, making them ideal weapons systems for America’s covert warriors, according to company officials.

The jet was designed by Robert Bornhofen, a former Skunk Works engineer, and was developed with the help of retired Air Force Col. James Stewart, a veteran test pilot.

“With these production-ready disruptive designs, we have created essentially the ‘Jeep’ of jets that provide for the first time since WWII aircraft that are designed for the mission and not missions designed to fit existing aircraft,” the company said in a statement to Inside the Ring.

For reconstituting U.S. communications after an EMP event or cyberattack, the aircraft can be outfitted with communications gear that will reconnect vital satellite and electronic communications through the small aircraft flying in shifts.

The jets are EMP-hardened to withstand the effects of a nuclear blast or special EMP weapons.

The aircraft can also provide continuous coverage for satellite, cellphone and ground “backhaul” communications within a few hours after an event.

The company hopes the Pentagon, which can more easily reconstitute military communications, will use the aircraft to restore communications with civilian agencies and the private sector shortly after an electronic blackout.

The company estimates that the entire United States could be covered with the aircraft’s telecommunications equipment for around $1 billion. Each jet can provide communications for 5,500 square miles.

“It is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ will there will be a cyber or EMP attack on U.S. soil,” say Mr. Bornhofen and Col. Stewart. “It is in the war doctrine of all our potential enemies.”

The unique jets can be stored and transported inside 40-foot shipping containers and rapidly set up by three people within four hours. The craft can take off within nine seconds and can land on short runways, beaches and grass airstrips.

The price is relatively inexpensive with stripped-down models costing around $3.5 million and armed models for around $9 million apiece. In addition to counterelectronic warfare missions, the jets can be used for counterdrone missions, electronic spying, covert operations and training.

President Biden said this week that China’s crackdown on dissent and its genocide against Uighur minorities under President Xi Jinping are the result of different “cultural norms” adopted by China’s Communist Party leadership.

At a CNN town hall meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Biden was asked about his recent two-hour phone conversation with Mr. Xi and whether China’s violations of human rights against Uighurs was discussed. Critics say more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been forced into concentration camps in western China under a policy of countering Islamic terrorism.

“We must speak up for human rights. It’s who we are,” said Mr. Biden, adding that “I know [Mr. Xi] well, and he knows me well.”

The outgoing Trump administration officially declared the Uighurs to be victims of genocide, and the new administration has not moved to change that.

But Mr. Biden also noted Tuesday that, historically, China has been “victimized by the outer world when they haven’t been unified at home.”

Mr. Xi’s “central principle” is to maintain control and unity, and “he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that,” the president said.

“I point out to him, no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States,” he said.

Mr. Biden told Mr. Xi that he would speak against Chinese repression of democracy in Hong Kong or the abuses against Uighurs or the situation in Taiwan, and Mr. Xi “said he gets it.”

“Culturally, there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow,” Mr. Biden said.

But some critics said Mr. Biden was repeating the talking points used by those defending Chinese repression.

Asked whether China will face U.S. repercussions for its human rights abuses, Mr. Biden said, “Well, there will be repercussions for China. And he knows that.” He did not elaborate but promised that the U.S. would reassert its role as a spokesman for human rights within the United Nations and other agencies.

China is seeking to become a world leader, he added, but “as long as they’re engaged in activity that is contrary to basic human rights, it’s going to be hard for them to do that.”

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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