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
-- 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.
THIS IS AN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT OF THE MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE. QUOTATION FROM, ABSTRACTION FROM, OR REPRODUCTION OF ALL OR ANY PART OF THIS DOCUMENT IS PERMITTED PROVIDED PROPER ACKNOWLEDGMENT IS MADE, INCLUDING THE AUTHOR'S NAME, PAPER TITLE, AND THE STATEMENT: "WRITTEN IN FULFILLMENT OF A REQUIREMENT FOR THE MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE."
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.