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Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol in tactical gear. Photo: Samuel Corum via Getty Images

Domestic extremists pose a serious threat to the military by attempting to recruit service members into their movement, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday.

Why it matters: Domestic extremism in the military has become a growing concern in recent years, the report notes. It blew into a bigger issue after the Justice Department charged several former and current military members for their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, which the FBI classified as domestic terrorism.

What they're saying: "Military members are highly prized by these groups as they bring legitimacy to their causes and enhance their ability to carry out attacks," said the report, which was prepared last year at Congress' request.

  • "In addition to potential violence, white supremacy and white nationalism pose a threat to the good order and discipline within the military."
  • The report listed examples of service members with extremist ties but did not offer a number on how many current and former military members ascribe to white supremacist ideologies.
  • Far-right extremists often used the app Telegram, for example, to share U.S. military manuals.
  • In another online forum, a reported service member commented that there are "plenty of our kind" in combat arms and that people identify fellow members by wearing a shirt "with some obscure fascist logo."
  • The report noted that some military members actually founded entire neo-Nazi movements.

The big picture: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signed a memo in early February ordering commanding officers and supervisors to hold a one-day "stand-down" to discuss extremism in the military.

  • "We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies," he wrote.
  • "Service members, DoD civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment."

Go deeper

FBI director: Jan. 6 Capitol attack was domestic terrorism

The FBI views the Jan. 6 Capitol siege as an act of domestic terrorism, director Christopher Wray testified in his opening statement Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Why it matters: The FBI's designation of the attack as domestic terrorism puts the perpetrators "on the same level with ISIS and homegrown violent extremists," Wray said.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Mar 2, 2021 - Technology

China will dominate AI unless U.S. invests more, commission warns

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S., which once had a dominant head start in artificial intelligence, now has just a few years' lead on China and risks being overtaken unless government steps in, according to a new report to Congress and the White House.

Why it matters: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who chaired the committee that issued the report, tells Axios that the U.S. risks dire consequences if it fails to both invest in key technologies and fully integrate AI into the military.

Mar 2, 2021 - Science

Dem Armed Services chairs support Space Force after Biden backing

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Democratic chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are in support of the U.S. Space Force, firmly signaling that the newest branch of the military — championed by former President Trump — will continue under President Biden.

Why it matters: It would take an act of Congress to dissolve the Space Force as a separate service branch, and while Democrats were widely critical of its creation, the political tide now appears to have turned in favor of the force.