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US Navy ‘extremism’ training says staff can advocate for BLM but not ‘politically partisan issues’

US Navy ‘extremism’ training says staff can advocate for BLM but not ‘politically partisan issues’

The US Navy’s training on ‘extremism’ says staff can advocate for Black Lives Matter (BLM) while at work but service members are not allowed to discuss ‘politically partisan issues’, training slides reveal. 

The Navy described BLM as a ‘public policy issue’ in the slides and advocating for the organisation was allowed as long as the behavior is lawful. 

But they stated that advocacy would be prohibited if it was ‘politically partisan in nature’. 

In the ‘scenarios for discussion’ slides, obtained by Fox News, Navy personnel were asked if they think BLM is ‘political stuff’ that those in command are ‘not supposed to be talking about at work’.   

In response, the Navy stated that BLM is a ‘public policy issue’ and advocating for the universal organization was allowed ‘as long as the behavior is otherwise lawful and the advocacy is not politically partisan in nature’. 

The US Navy's training on 'extremism' says staff can advocate for Black Lives Matter (BLM) while at work but service members are not allowed to discuss 'politically partisan issues', training slides reveal. Pictured: US sailors aboard the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill while it anchors in Port Sudan on March 1 [File photo]

The US Navy’s training on ‘extremism’ says staff can advocate for Black Lives Matter (BLM) while at work but service members are not allowed to discuss ‘politically partisan issues’, training slides reveal. Pictured: US sailors aboard the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill while it anchors in Port Sudan on March 1 [File photo]

It comes after the defense secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a military-wide stand-down last month following a meeting with the US military branch leaders, who are under pressure to show progress in combating extremism after current and former military service members were found to have participated in the siege of the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

The slides, which were obtained from a US military official who took part in the training exercise at the Pentagon, stated: ‘Advocating for or against a public policy issue (as here) is authorized as long as the behavior is otherwise lawful and the advocacy is not politically partisan in nature (e.g. it doesn’t specifically address a political party.

‘If the discussions make you uncomfortable, discuss the matter with your boss or another supervisor.’  

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby speaks during the briefing on Monday

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby speaks during the briefing on Monday 

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby was asked on Monday whether talking about BLM at work is ‘considered partisan’ – to which he said he ‘was not able to answer that question’.

He added that to answer why that is the case could ‘go down a rabbit hole on a million different things’.  

‘What we’re trying to get after here is the kind of ideology that inspires conduct and behavior – and it’s not about one side or the other on the aisle,’ Kirby continued. 

‘It’s not about what God you worship or choose not to worship. It’s about ideology that inspires you or can inspire others to bring harm inside the force. 

‘And that’s what we’re trying to get after.’ 

Kirby said the Pentagon was taking ‘seriously’ the importance of combating extremism while admitting the issue is ‘a hard problem to get our arms around’.         

‘But we can’t just put our head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. We can’t just say: “Well, it’s not a problem.” It is a problem,’ he added. 

‘The other problem is, we don’t know how big it is. And so that’s what we’re trying to learn. And I think you’re gonna see this unfold over time.’

‘I’m not going to be able to come to the podium this week, next week or the week after with a plan and say: “This is it. This is how this is how it’s defined,”‘ Kirby said. 

‘And this is exactly how deep the problem is. This is going to be something and Secretary Austin has made very clear he’s going to work on every day that he’s the Secretary of Defense.

‘It’s not something that you can take your foot off the pedal on.’

It comes after the US military last month acknowledged it was unsure about how to address white nationalism and other extremism in its ranks, and announced plans for military-wide stand-downs pausing regular activity at some point in the next 60 days to tackle the issue.

President Biden's defense secretary Lloyd Austin orders troops to stand down for 60 days to address 'white nationalism and extremism in the ranks'

President Biden’s defense secretary Lloyd Austin orders troops to stand down for 60 days to address ‘white nationalism and extremism in the ranks’

The decision to a hold a stand-down was made by Lloyd Austin, who made history by becoming the military’s first Black defense secretary after a long career rising in the ranks of the Army. 

In his confirmation hearing, Austin underscored the need to rid the military of ‘racists and extremists’.

A stand-down order means taking the military off an offensive footing but does not mean all military operations would stop at merienda. 

The Pentagon did not define whether stand-downs pausing regular activity across the US military might last minutes or hours, or what commanders would do during that time to express opposition to extremism. 

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