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News Release


Release No: 144-96
March 21, 1996


Secretary of the Army Togo D. West, Jr., today announced that his "Task Force on Extremist Activity: Defending American Values" found no widespread or organized extremist activity in the Army.

The task force, formed Dec. 12, 1995, did find that individuals or small, informal groups of individuals hold extremist views. Allegations or suspicions of widespread, concerted recruitment of soldiers for extremist causes, and participation by soldiers in organized extremist activities, were not substantiated.

"This tells us that the Army is composed of soldiers who reflect the American belief that extremism is unacceptable in our society and in the Army. It also recognizes the continuing challenge posed by even a minimal number of individuals who hold extremist views which are contrary to good order and discipline," Secretary West said.

The task force report addresses the assessment of extremism in the Army and human relations climate. It includes a review of current policies and the circumstances surrounding the Fayetteville homicides. Additionally, it contains conclusions, recommendations, background and methodology.

Based on the overall findings, Secretary West directed the Army to take immediate steps to improve its approach to extremist activities and its efforts to provide a human relations environment that fosters teamwork, respect for human dignity, and pride in oneself and the Army.

He directed that the Army:

· revise, strengthen and clarify the current regulation governing involvement in extremist organizations;

· write and implement comprehensive regulations governing policies and procedures for quality of life initiatives; · make substantial changes to the current Army Equal Opportunity Program. This program will be expanded to embrace all human relations issues, to include, but not be limited to, the elimination of extremism in the Army.

Two of the actions will involve the Department of Defense. Secretary West directed his staff to coordinate with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Edwin

Dorn, in a review of enlistment policies to see if there are ways to screen applicants who participate in extremist organizations. Secretary West also asked for Under Secretary Dorn's support in reviewing DoD's equal opportunity and race relations training.

Secretary West created the task force after the murders of Michael James and Jackie Burden on Dec. 7, 1995 in Fayetteville, N.C. Three soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg have been charged with the murders.

The task force charter was to assess the influence of extremist groups in the Army and examine the effect of those groups on the Army's human relations environment.

The task force conducted interviews at 28 installations in 16 states, Germany and Korea within a six-week period. More than 50 officers, noncommissioned officers, and Army civilian employees assisted the task force members in this effort. Less than one percent of the 7,638 interviewed reported that a soldier or civilian employee was an active participant in an extremist group. Less than one percent reported having any type of contact with extremist groups on or near Army installations.

The Army Research Institute analyzed 17,080 surveys completed by Army personnel. In the survey, 3.5 percent of the participants reported they have been approached to join extremist organizations since joining the Army. Also, 7.1 percent reported they knew another soldier whom they believed to be a member of an extremist organization.

The task force was led by Maj. Gen. Larry R. Jordan, Deputy Inspector General and task force members included Karen S. Heath, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs; John P. McLaurin III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Military Personnel Management and Equal Opportunity Policy; Brig. Gen. Daniel Doherty, Commanding General, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command; and the Sergeant Major of the Army, Gene C. McKinney.

Although the task force found minimal evidence of extremist activity in the Army, it identified areas of concern.

· The Army regulation on participation in extremist organizations is misunderstood and confusing to soldiers and junior leaders.

· Existing Army training programs and assessment tools do not adequately address extremism. · Gang-related activities appear to be more pervasive than extremist activities on and near Army installations and are becoming a significant security concern for many soldiers.

· Existing open installations combined with less regulated barracks policies have degraded commanders' knowledge about soldiers' activities after duty hours.

The efforts of the Task Force have given the Army a good idea of where it can focus its efforts to improve the environment in which soldiers, civilians and families work and live.

For further information contact Maj. Sharan Daniel, Master Sgt. Rebecca Marcum, or 1st Sgt. Dawn Kilpatrick at 703-695-1717.

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