Executive Summary
 

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

RISE OF DOMESTIC TERRORISM AND ITS RELATION TO UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES

From the moment a large proportion of the population begin to take his activities seriously, his success is assured. The Government can only intensify its repression, thus making the life of its citizens harder than ever: homes will be broken into, police searches organized, innocent people arrested, and communications broken; police terror will become the order of the day, and there will be more and more political murders - in short a massive political persecution . . . the political situation of the country will become a military situation.

-- Carlos Marighella, Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla

 

Title: Rise of Domestic Terrorism and Its Relation to United States Armed Forces

Author: LCDR Steven Mack Presley, MSC, USN

19 April 1996

Thesis: Extremist and potentially terroristic groups have, to some extent, infiltrated and negatively impacted on the morale and cohesiveness of individual military personnel and units. Racial, religious and political ideological differences will continue to exist within and among active duty military personnel, primarily as a reflection of the same issues in the civilian society. Fair and effective means of limiting the involvement of active-duty military personnel in extremist organizations will require aggressive education and training at all levels, particularly among new recruits.

Discussion: Recent events of domestic terrorism which have been either perpetrated by active duty United States military personnel, or have been indirectly linked to active duty and ex-military persons, have caused significant concern and alarm over the extent to which extremists and hate-groups are present in the military services. A major dilemma is posed in dealing with this issue, specifically when an individual's freedoms of thought and association are identified as a contributing factor to the existence of such people in the military services. Restrictive policies and punitive actions taken against persons "actively" involved with groups identified as extremists or terroristic require a clear and well-defined definition of what degree participation can be considered "active." Growing numbers of radical right-wing and racially-motivated groups within the United States, and the growing dissatisfaction with government policies and practices will have a continuing impact upon the military into the foreseeable future.

Conclusion(s) or Recommendation(s): Right-wing extremists and hate-motivated groups have historically, and are currently recruiting active duty military personnel for several reasons, including: 1) they lend a degree of "legitimacy" and "bravado" to militant groups that aids in the group's ability to recruit civilians, 2) they are trained and are capable of training group members in the use of weapons and tactics, 3) they are useful as an "inside" point of contact for ordinance and munitions thefts, and 4) the military environment fosters a more disciplined and conservative mindset that these groups can exploit and construe to attain loyalties and devotion based upon the racial or religious convictions of the soldier. Guidelines and policies must be carefully and succinctly enacted which clarify the degree to which military personnel can participate in groups that are deemed potentially dangerous, however great care must be taken to protect the freedoms and rights of military personnel. Additionally, education and frank, open discussions will be required to prevent and eliminate such problems in the future.


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THE OPINIONS AND CONCLUSIONS EXPRESSED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL STUDENT AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF EITHER THE MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY.