MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
Members of the 167th Airlift Wing participated in training and roundtable discussions on how to combat extremism in the ranks, strengthen the unit’s overall integrity and bring awareness to current issues in today’s world during May’s unit training assembly.
Following proper COVID-19 mitigation and social distancing guidelines, the wing’s four groups met at various times on Saturday to watch educational videos and partake in follow-on conversations facilitated by Staff Judge Advocates to address and critically think about the issues at hand.
“Actively espousing ideologies that encourage discrimination, hate and harassment against others will not be tolerated within our organization,” said Col. Martin Timko, 167th Airlift Wing commander, during a video presented to wing members. “I expect the core principles of dignity and mutual respect to guide the actions of the personnel in this organization at all times.”
The Extremism Stand Down occurred at the direction of the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. In February the SECDEF gave direction to unit commanders and supervisors at all levels to conduct a leadership “stand down” to address the issue of extremist ideology in our ranks. As commanders and leaders hold stand downs in their respective units, feedback is encouraged so senior leaders can make determinations on how to combat the problem moving forward.
“The Defense Secretary Austin’s video message was the foundation upon which we built our Extremism Stand Down discussion,” said Maj. Jenny Naylor, staff judge advocate with the 167th Airlift Wing’s legal office. “The facilitators did a phenomenal job tackling tough questions from the audience. Several group sessions have reported lively discussions with questions from Airmen that showed their understanding of the concerns and a commitment to stamp out extremism ideology in the ranks.”
One of the core messages of this stand down is to reiterate that extremist ideologies undermine the oath taken by 167th members, and extremism has no place within the Department of Defense. As stated in a memorandum signed by the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, “We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies. Service members, DoD civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment.”