All Navy sailors and officers must renew the oath to defend the Constitution they took when they first donned the uniform. Adm. Mike Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, issued the directive in a Feb. 9 all-hands announcement addressing extremism in the ranks.
The oath would be administered during the stand down of all armed services, as ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Each command is expected to complete the process by April 6, the date the stand down ends.
Gilday issued the order in the wake of reports of extremist presence among military personnel. He cited two recent incidents involving the display of what he termed “symbols of hate and violence” that were left anonymously in the common spaces of Navy ships.
Investigations into the incidents are ongoing. The Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by rioters also was a factor in his decision.
“We must better understand the scope of the problem, get after this issue, and eliminate conduct that is driven by extremist beliefs,” Gilday said in his message to the fleet. “If we don’t eliminate extremist behaviors from our Navy, then racism, injustice, indignity, and disrespect will grow and continue to keep us from reaching our potential – an inclusive, respectful, professional fighting force that answers the nation’s call.”