The Department of Defense will be changing its definition of extremism and creating new ways to weed it out from the ranks, according to a new memo issued on Friday. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued the directive to senior leadership outlining the changes — after he implemented a 60-day stand down earlier this year to learn more about extremism in the ranks and how it impacts service members, VOA News reported

The memo lists immediate action Lloyd wants the DOD to undertake, the creation of a Countering Extremism Working Group and a series of longer-term efforts that’ll explore if more action is necessary. 

The immediate actions are a review and update to the DOD’s definition of prohibited extremist activities among uniformed personnel, an update to the service member transition checklist, a review and standardization of questionnaires for recruits and a study on extremism in the ranks. 

The move comes after the Biden Administration vowed to take a tougher stance against extremism in the wake of the insurrection against the US Capitol. 

Nearly 20 percent of the insurrectionists facing charges for participating in the riot are military veterans or current members of the armed services, NPR previously reported, and the National Guard had to expel two soldiers ahead of the inauguration because of ties to extremist groups

“The vast majority of those who serve in uniform and their civilian colleagues, do so with great honor and integrity, but any extremist behavior in the force can have an outsized impact,” Lloyd wrote in the memo, which was posted to Twitter by a VOA News reporter. 

The update to the service member transition checklist will focus on training soon-to-be veterans on their potential to be targeted by extremist groups and creating a mechanism that allows vets to report any contact with extremists if they choose to do so, the memo states. 

The Oath Keepers, a far-right, anarchist group, were heavily represented at the US Capitol insurrection and specifically recruits active-military members and veterans to join the group because of their weapons training.

The updates to the screening questionnaires military recruits fill out will focus on soliciting “specific information about current or previous extremist behavior” so bad eggs can be weeded out before they join the ranks. 

Capitol rioters
According to a report, nearly 20 percent of the Capitol rioters facing charges are former or current military members.
John Minchillo, File/AP

Further, the DOD will commission a study on extremist behavior within the total force to get a better idea of how bad the problem is. 

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