Marchers with the Alt-Right Neo-Nazi group

An annual Pentagon report on extremism within the ranks reveals that 78 service members were suspected of advocating for the overthrow of the U.S. government and another 44 were suspected of engaging or supporting terrorism.

The report released Thursday[1] by the Defense Department inspector general revealed that in fiscal 2023 there were 183 allegations of extremism across all the branches of military, broken down not only into efforts to overthrow the government and terrorism but also advocating for widespread discrimination or violence to achieve political goals.

The statistics indicate the military continues to grapple with extremism following its public denunciations and a stand-down across the services[2] ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in 2021. Furthermore, the numbers do not make it clear whether the military's approach is working. In 2021, the year the data was first released to Congress[3], there were 270 allegations of extremist activities. In 2022[4], that figure dropped to 146 before rebounding over the past year.

Read Next: Airman's Remains Recovered from Osprey Crash off Coast of Japan, 7 Others Listed as 'Whereabouts Unknown'[5]

The Army[6] had the most allegations in fiscal 2023 with 130 soldiers suspected of participation in extremist activity. The Air Force[7] suspected 29 airmen; the Navy[8] and Marine Corps[9] reported 10 service members each. For the first time, the inspector general also reported numbers for the Space Force[10] as a separate entity from the other services -- it suspected four Guardians of extremism.

The IG report also included instances of alleged criminal gang activity: There were 58 allegations of gang activity across the military.

However, the report did note that, out of all the suspected extremism and criminal gang activity, 68 of the total cases were investigated and cleared or deemed unsubstantiated.

In the U.S., extremist activity, including neo-Nazi, white supremacist and anti-government movements, has been growing, and numerous violent plots by veterans and even active-duty troops have been thwarted in recent years[11]. Experts on extremist movements have warned about the growing potential of more violence and future attacks, similar to the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995 that killed 168 and was carried out by an Army veteran.

In February, a former National Guardsman[12], Brandon Russell, who founded the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi hate group, was charged with plotting to blow up Baltimore's electrical grid and cause as much suffering as possible. Russell, who allegedly kept a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 after an arrest in Florida for possessing explosives.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol building, the Pentagon tried to make a show of dealing with the problem of extremism among troops after it became clear that veterans as well as some active-duty troops were among the mob that stormed the halls of Congress in an effort to halt the certification of the 2020 election. has reported that many of those efforts[13] -- including the military-wide extremism training stand-down ordered by Austin -- were largely symbolic and were widely considered as just another box for commanders to check.

One active-duty noncommissioned officer said that, aside from the fact that no one was paying attention at the stand-down briefing he attended, the commander giving the lecture was "talking about what he thought were radical groups like Black Lives Matter."

The idea that far-left groups are just as problematic as far-right ones is a popular talking point among conservatives[14] and Republican lawmakers[15]. However, law enforcement officials[16] and experts who study the topic have consistently noted that far-right groups espousing anti-government and white supremacist views are the biggest threat to the U.S. today[17].

The report also revealed that other efforts such as screening prospective recruits before enlistment are not working as well as intended.

Some recruiters[18] did not complete all of the screening steps and "as a result, military service recruiters may not have identified all applications with extremist or criminal gang associations," according to the inspector general report.

"Further, the audit found that one military service entered data indicating applicants disclosed extremist or gang associations even though the applicants had not made such disclosures," the IG said, but it did not reveal which of the services falsely accused some of its recruits of having extremist ties.

What the report does make clear, however, is that when allegations are made, they are being referred for investigation, and when allegations are substantiated, some action is taken.

Of all the extremist and gang activity allegations, 135 were reported to military or civilian law enforcement, and 109 of the allegations were reported to another DoD organization or official.

Furthermore, 69 of all the allegations were substantiated at the time the report was written and the vast majority of those -- 50 -- were handled through administrative actions. That included involuntary discharge for 19 and counseling in three instances, while 17 more were handled by nonjudicial punishment and two went to court-martial.

There were no substantiated cases of extremism or gang activity where no action was taken.

While these figures, compared with the overall size of the services, are small, research and experts say that military service members and veterans pose an outsized danger to communities when they go down the path of extremism, given their increased familiarity with firearms and ability to organize and plan effectively.

In 2020, an Air Force sergeant at Travis Air Force Base[19] in California pulled up to a federal courthouse in Oakland, California, in a white van and opened fire on security guards[20], killing one before going on the run and murdering a county sheriff's deputy a week later as part of a larger plan to incite a civil war.

Also in 2020, members of a group that included two Marines[21] and styled itself as a "modern day SS" were arrested on allegations that they were plotting to destroy the power grid in the northwest. U.S. court records in that case[22] say members discussed recruiting other veterans, stole military equipment, asked others to buy explosives, and discussed plans to manufacture firearms.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on X at @ktoropin[23].

Related: What the Pentagon Has, Hasn't and Could Do to Stop Veterans and Troops from Joining Extremist Groups[24]

© Copyright 2023 All rights reserved. This article may not be republished, rebroadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without written permission. To reprint or license this article or any content from, please submit your request here[25].

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks to reporters

Two Democrats who serve on panels that oversee the Pentagon have stepped up their campaign to curb what they call widespread “price gouging” in contracts for military spare parts.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. John Garamendi of California, both of them members of their chamber’s Armed Services Committee, pressed their case Wednesday in a pair of letters obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Warren and Garamendi expressed outrage that defense contractors are exploiting loopholes so the companies can regularly refuse to provide the Defense Department legally required data to document that their parts’ prices are fair and reasonable on contracts awarded without competition.

One of the missives went to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and the other to Kevin M. Stein, president and CEO of Cleveland-based TransDigm Group Inc., a company that has been at the center of the spare parts pricing controversy for more than a decade.

“Contractors who consistently refuse to turn over cost and pricing data continue to rake in DoD contracts,” Warren and Garamendi wrote to Austin.

In the lawmakers’ letter to Stein, they wrote that his company’s “ongoing refusal to provide DoD with pricing data is unacceptable given the company’s record of ripping off the government and taxpayer.”

‘Egregious’ records

The lawmakers cited not just TransDigm but also Boeing Co., one of the Pentagon’s top contractors, as having “particularly egregious” records on this score.

Those two companies have publicly denied wrongdoing in these matters.

TransDigm, for its part, refused to provide the Pentagon with cost data on 401 different items in a one-year period ending September 2022, according to a previously undisclosed Defense Department report to Congress on contractor cost disclosures.

Defense Department Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante wrote in the report that the problem may be bigger than is known.

“The Department believes the problem in obtaining data from contractors to support fair and reasonable prices may be more prevalent than what has been collected to date, particularly with respect to sole source commercial products,” LaPlante wrote in the report, which was obtained by CQ Roll Call.

The Pentagon inspector general’s office disclosed in December 2021 that TransDigm owed the department nearly $21 million for overcharges on spare parts — the latest in a series of adverse audit findings about the company’s pricing practices.

The lawmakers noted in their Wednesday letter to Stein that there has been “no public update of the status” of the $21 million refund. They asked Stein to provide one.

In 2019, TransDigm repaid the government $16 million for a similar set of overcharges.

As for Boeing, the prior year’s Defense Department report on the issue found that Boeing had declined to provide cost data on nearly 11,000 parts on one contract.

‘Unacceptable exploitation’

Back in May of this year, Warren and Garamendi wrote to the Pentagon, TransDigm and Boeing seeking more information about military parts prices and how much information companies are withholding from the government.

Wednesday’s letters follow up on the May missives and indicate that the two lawmakers did not consider the responses to their earlier letter to be adequate.

“The latest report of contractors’ refusal to provide pricing data, along with the responses from Boeing, TransDigm, and DoD, highlight the need for DoD and congressional action,” the two lawmakers wrote in this week’s letter to Austin. “As stewards of taxpayers’ money, we look forward to your feedback and cooperation on how we can prevent unacceptable exploitation of the current contracting system.”

The new Warren-Garamendi letters posed a series of detailed questions to Austin and Stein with a view to gathering more information about the situation and to shape potential congressional responses.

9,400 percent profit

The Pentagon’s history of paying inflated prices for military spare parts is infamous. Stories about the issue surged during the 1980s defense buildup, including examples such as a $400 plastic knob for a fighter jet and a $37 screw for a ballistic missile, not to mention an ordinary hammer for $435.

Recent disclosures echo those bygone reports. In 2019, the Pentagon inspector general disclosed one instance where TransDigm charged $4,361 for a half-inch metal pin — representing nearly 9,400 percent in excess profit.

Other defense contractors besides TransDigm have been found to have overcharged for spare parts. These include top Pentagon contractors — Boeing, Raytheon Technologies Corp. (now RTX Corp.) and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Warren has ridden herd on the spare parts problem for many years.

She and Garamendi have been joined by other members from both parties in both chambers — including California Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna of the Armed Services Committee and Barbara Lee of the Appropriations Committee — in attempting to hold the Pentagon to account for oversight of spare parts prices.

The House-passed fiscal 2024 Defense appropriations bill contains an amendment by Lee that would require a Pentagon report to the Appropriations committees in both chambers on the department’s efforts to crack down on contractors that have charged excessive prices for parts.

In May, Warren joined with four other senators in writing Austin about that problem and the broader scourge of procurement fraud.

The other senators on that letter were Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa and Mike Braun, R-Ind.


At the same time, Warren has joined with Braun and Garamendi on legislation that would close some of the perceived loopholes.

These include one that enables contractors to withhold cost data from the Pentagon in cases where a part is like a commercial one — even if the part is only being sold to the U.S. military, experts have said.

Companies are also able to avoid disclosure of cost data for deals worth less than $2 million. That threshold was raised in the fiscal 2018 NDAA from $750,000 in an effort to streamline contracting and acquisitions.

In this week’s letter to Austin, Warren and Garamendi expressed concern that the department is not moving aggressively enough to tackle the problem.

“It remains unclear if any acquisitions have been canceled or if DoD is otherwise using its full authority to ensure the government isn’t being ripped off,” they wrote.


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