UPDATE: Hate Groups Infiltrating U.S. Military?

Two months ago, Dr. Joyner related the report that the US Army is a bunch of hate-group/neo-Nazi/gangland thugs, and said it was BS.

Finally, on Monday, the Provost Marshall (Chief of Police) of Fort Lewis (WA) finally refuted the AP story, though it isn’t so clear, as this isn’t a black-and-white issue.


There is little gang activity among soldiers at Fort Lewis, and no recent evidence of extremist hate groups working among the ranks, the Army post’s top law enforcement officer said Monday.
“And we want to keep it that way,” Col. Katherine Miller, the Fort Lewis provost marshal, told reporters. Miller and the post’s public affairs officer called a briefing with the news media in response to stories over the past several months about gang and extremist activity among U.S. military service members.
The Chicago Sun-Times in May reported a rise in gang activity among soldiers. And the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization based in Montgomery, Ala., in July asserted that racist hate groups were exploiting the U.S. military’s recruiting pressures to enroll members into the armed forces.
Both reports drew extensively from interviews with Scott Barfield, a Defense Department gang investigator from Fort Lewis.
He was quoted as saying that since 2002 he has identified 320 gang members and extremists at Fort Lewis, but that commanders have shown little interest in discharging them from the Army. He was quoted as saying gang investigators across the military were getting little support to remove gangsters from the ranks.
Barfield was not present at Monday’s briefing.

Bad PR move, why was he not available? Regardless, there is a interesting disconnect on gangs, or maybe it is semantics. Years ago it was a fact of life that a young “ruffian” in court was given a choice between jail or the Army. Today, the social worker concept means that they think it is bad that someone goes into the Army to straighten them out, because a social worker is obviously much more capable (job security for the social worker?). And gangs are not necessarily the “extremists” quoted.

But Miller said Barfield told her he didn’t tell reporters that his figures included hate-group extremists, not only gang members. “And he told me he wasn’t sure he used the 320 number,” Miller said.
She said she directed him to review his files, after which he told her that over the past five years, there have been 126 soldiers identified as gang members or possible gang members.
Of those, five committed crimes, Miller said: Two were involved in tagging Fort Lewis buildings with gang graffiti, two fought each other and claimed past gang affiliations and one was involved in drug use.
“The facts are over the past five years, I’ve had less than a handful of soldiers investigated in criminal activity associated with gangs,” Miller said.

Or maybe there is something to worry about

The Chicago Sun-Times in May reported a rise in gang activity among soldiers. And the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization based in Montgomery, Ala., in July asserted that racist hate groups were exploiting the U.S. military’s recruiting pressures to enroll members into the armed forces.
Both reports drew extensively from interviews with Scott Barfield, a Defense Department gang investigator from Fort Lewis.
He was quoted as saying that since 2002 he has identified 320 gang members and extremists at Fort Lewis, but that commanders have shown little interest in discharging them from the Army. He was quoted as saying gang investigators across the military were getting little support to remove gangsters from the ranks.
Barfield was not present at Monday’s briefing.
But Miller said Barfield told her he didn’t tell reporters that his figures included hate-group extremists, not only gang members. “And he told me he wasn’t sure he used the 320 number,” Miller said.
She said she directed him to review his files, after which he told her that during the past five years, there have been 126 soldiers identified as gang members or possible gang members.
Of those, five committed crimes, Miller said: Two were involved in tagging Fort Lewis buildings with gang graffiti, two fought each other and claimed past gang affiliations, and one was involved in drug use.
“The facts are over the past five years, I’ve had less than a handful of soldiers investigated in criminal activity associated with gangs,” Miller said.
Fort Lewis public affairs officer Lt. Col. Dan Williams said Monday that he would ask Miller if she would make Barfield available for more interviews. He works under her chain of command, Williams said.

My father has related to me his experiences as a drill sergeant with Italian inner-city mob draftees, which he considered better than the illiterate Texas and Mississippi (etc) draftees that he also had to deal with (my father is from Oklahoma, Sooner).

Bottom line here is that the Army is the same as the rest of the country. except they do not tolerate extremists, nor idiots. My Google News search finds 5 media sources covering this, all local to Ft Lewis. A whole lot of attention about nothing so long as it is negative, but no appologies when this is found to be not so.

Previous: Hate Groups Infiltrating U.S. Military?

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, ,
Richard Gardner
About Richard Gardner
Richard Gardner is a “retired” Navy Submarine Officer with military policy, arms control, and budgeting experience. He contributed over 100 pieces to OTB between January 2004 and August 2008, covering special events. He has a BS in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.

Comments

  1. Jim Henley says:

    The articles as quoted are extremely slippery, since the original reported concern was “hate groups and gangs” and the official “refutations” concentrate on gangs exclusively. I understand the usual right-wing snit about the mean old media not playing up stories you like is a reflex and not completely within a conservative blogger’s control, but it seems pretty inapplicable here. The stories you’re linking don’t amount to much.

  2. LJD says:

    I understand the usual LEFT-wing snit about the mean old media not playing up stories you like is a reflex and not completely within a LIBERAL blogger’s control, but it seems pretty inapplicable here.

    Please don’t shake the belief that the miltary is evil. The lefties won’t know where else to turn.

    he has identified 320 gang members and extremists at Fort Lewis

    God forbid that these guys actually joined the military to turn their lives around, and that there haven’t been any ‘issues’ because they are exemplary soldiers. Their stint with ‘extremism’ just another wrong turn as misguided youth.

    Extremists joining the military for training just seems to be a stupid premise. These guys don’t tend to be the tolerant type. So why put up with 3 plus years of crap, only to want to get out and rejoin with your dumbass antics. Besides, unless you go SF, with a much longer obligation, you aren’t likely to get any training not already available to civilians. Of course, liberal bloggers have no f-ing idea…

    I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, just that it’s not an epidemic as some would have you believe.

  3. Jim Henley says:

    I don’t think the initial report of 320 or so was a big deal, which is why – gosh! – I didn’t bother blogging it at the time. The point is that this set of articles doesn’t “refute” claims of hate-group infiltration of the military because they fairly quickly shift the conversation to criminal activity by gang members and away from hate groups entirely. It also requires us to take the statements of official spokesmen at face value, which is never indicated for government bureaucracies, military or non-military.

    Your tu quoque, LJD, is completely irrelevant. I’m not complaining that some story wasn’t played up. So yeah, it’s irrelevant here. But it doesn’t speak to anything I’m saying.

  4. LJD says:

    Maybe we’re not reading the same articles…

    I see:

    …no recent evidence of extremist hate groups working among the ranks…

    …But Miller said Barfield told her he didn’t tell reporters that his figures included hate-group extremists, not only gang members…

    So it would seem your claim that the focus is only on gang members is false. Rather, there haven’t been ANY extremists activities to report! And the problems with the gang members are not out of the ordinary (although very rare)for the general populace of the military: vandalism, drugs, and fighting. (And wow, 5 whole complaints!)

    Au contraire… The original story doesn’t amount to much. It is not the follow-up stories that have to refute anything. It is the original complaint, by the ‘civil rights group’ that must have substance- which it doesn’t.

    If you don’t trust the word of ‘official’ spokesmen of the military, on military matters, you’re pretty mush at a loss for any other source of qualified commentary.

    My ‘tu quoque’ as you put is was a return volley for your claim that conservative blogging has anything at all to do with this (original) non-story. It points out the desire on the left to smear the miltary with some sort of scandal that doesn’t exist. Because, just think of all the ‘military training’ extremists might get to further their cause, like: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage.

    I can see why the left, and their need to have dependent minorities, might feel threatened.

  5. DavidV says:

    As a reporter I covered gang activity in my area, and during subsequent work with the court system I have had additional anti-gang training. For what it’s worth, most gang officers are quite concerned about gang members in the military. I’ve seen video of an entire dance floor of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, flashing gang signs in the air in time to the music, and dozens of pictures of gang “tags” (i.e. graffiti) on military equiment. I have also seen video of at least one ex-military gang member using military tactics and equipment to ambush and kill a police officer. Obviously, this is all second-hand knowledge and doesn’t really speak to the scope of the problem, but there is definitely some level of gang activity in the military.

  6. LJD says:

    As a reporter…

    You lost me after that…

    But seriously.

    Of course gang officers are concerned with gang members in the military. IT’S THEIR JOB to be concerned about what gang members are doing and where. That doesn’t mean it’s actually happening, that just means they’re concerned.

    As for the gang signs and graffiti, I like to think it is more about ‘being cool’ in the hip-hop fashion than actually marking one’s territory. I’ve seen it in the troops I was responsible for. In addition, contrary to liberal belief, soldiers just don’t run around unsupervised and ‘raising hell’. I guarantee the chain of command would not and does not tolerate such antics.

    Military tactics and equipment? Huh? Like what? Where does one acquire such ‘military equipment’? Most reporters wouldn’t know the difference between an M-16 and an AR-15, nor would they care to know. The former makes a better story. For that matter, they don’t know the difference between a tank and a bradley, and I have on occasion seen footage of U.S. troops that were actually British.

    I will say it is possible gang members have gotten into the military. It is also possible for an individual to join a gang after leaving or being forced to leave the military. So what? Let’s go back to the ‘training’. What is it that the military lends to these guys that makes them more dangerous? As a former member of a combat unit, I’m interested to hear about it.

    Bottom line: This whole story is unsubstantiated BS, trumped up as some commentary on military recruiting. It plays into the anti-war philosophy where the troops are bad and the enemy are ‘freeedom fighters’. Absolute nonsense.

  7. Richard Gardner says:

    Updating my own post in case someone searches here. New article

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/6089006p-5337951c.html

    It turns out the quoted source from Ft. Belvoir had just resigned from the Ft. Lewis Police Force, probably realizing if he didn’t he would be fired. This source, Scott Barfield, 28, was a very junior person, a GS-7 (secretaries are GS-5/7).

    And to repeat, there have been no instances of Neo-Nazis at Ft. Lewis. Don’t think there have been any Communists either, but there could be, just like there could be neo-Nazis.

    no documented incidents involving hate groups

    It makes copy.