January 19, 2021

Video: In SASC Hearing, Kaine Raises Concerns Over Rise of Extremism among Servicemembers

You can watch Senator Kaine’s full questioning here

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to consider the nomination of retired General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine asked General Austin how the military should address the rise of white supremacy and extremism among military personnel. According to a Military Times survey, more than one-third of active-duty servicemembers and more than half of minority servicemembers said they have personally seen evidence of white supremacist ideologies among the military’s ranks. If confirmed, General Austin would be the first Black Secretary of Defense in U.S. history.

“If you look at the spectrum of people who were involved [on January 6]…you find a lot of people who have connection to our military who should be, as part of the enormous training investment we make in them, able to spot the difference between truth and fantasy,” Kaine said. “We invest so much to train a member of our military — officer, enlisted — what might you suggest to us as we think about the training going forward that would lead us to have a military that was immune from superstition and not so gullible as to fall for these false ideologies?” 

“The enemy within, disunity, is probably the most destructive force in terms of our ability to defend ourselves,” Kaine continued. “If we’re divided against one another, how can we defend the nation?” 

Since the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, current and former servicemembers have been arrested for their involvement.

Kaine also focused his questioning on quality of life issues such as military housing and sexual assault, telling General Austin that, should he be confirmed, he hopes he “will be attuned to the need to balance challenges like that so that we can provide the quality of life that our men and women and their families deserve and that will keep them reenlisting.”

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