Pictured: U.S. Navy Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 re-take the Oath of Office and Oath of Enlistment as part of stand-down training against extremism in the ranks on March 27, 2021 at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme. Photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Stephane Belcher. 

by Kimberly Rivers

On March 27, in response to a Feb. 5, 2021 order to the entire U.S. Navy from Hon. Thomas W. Harker, Acting Secretary of the Navy, training was conducted at Naval Base Ventura County designed to “address issues of extremist ideology within the ranks” of the U.S. military. 

Stand-down training materials were released by the U.S. Department of Defense on Feb. 26 and the order directed the training to occur no later than April 6, 2021. 

U.S. Navy Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 during training against extremism, March 27, 2021 at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme. Photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Stephane Belcher. 

The four stated goals of the training are, first, to review the meaning of the oath all service members take when they join any military branch or the Department of Defense as a civilian employee. Second, to review “impermissible behaviors,” and the responsibility to report any prohibited actions; and finally to conduct “listening sessions” that may include providing feedback to the Secretary of Defense about the training and other ways to combat extremism in the military. 

The unclassified order stated that the training and materials provided are aimed at “handling dissident and protest activities among members of the armed forces.” (1) The order emphasizes that such 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.” The order went on to state that “the Department of the Navy has zero tolerance for extremist conduct.” 

The stand-down order clarifies that all commanders “have the authority to employ the full range of administrative and disciplinary actions . . . or appropriate criminal action to sanction Sailors or Marines who actively participated in any supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang organizations.” 

The same order clarifies that it is prohibited for “any member of the naval service” to participate in activity with “any organization advocating supremacist causes, advocating illegal discrimination or advocating the use of force of violence against the U.S. Government or a state government.” 

The training instructions include language that supports the reinforcement of the “core values, Honor, Courage and Commitment,” and allow ample time for “commanders and supervisors to listen to the concerns and experiences and possible solutions . . . to aid in eradicating extremism” from the Navy. 

Action identified that would betray the oath taken by members of the military include actions that “advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex (including gender identity or sexual orientation), religion, ethnicity or national origin or those that advance, encourage or advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.”

The training is also meant to emphasize that all those serving in any military branch “deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate and harassment.” 

Activities identified that would prohibit the oaths taken and other rules of conduct include “fundraising, demonstrating, or rallying, recruiting, training, organizing or leading members, distributing material (including posting on-line), knowingly wearing gang colors or clothing.” Identifying tattoos or body markings associated with “gangs or organizations,” and any actions that further the “objectives of these organizations,” are prohibited and are “incompatible with military service.” 


The entire unclassified order is online at: www.navy.mil/Resources/ALNAVs/Message/Article/2503584/stand-down-to-extremism-in-the-ranks/ 

The training materials provided for the stand-down training are online at media.defense.gov/2021/Feb/26/2002589872/-1/-1/1/LEADERSHIP-STAND-DOWN-FRAMEWORK.PDF