The eight flag officers who comprise the Joint Chiefs of Staff each signed a statement in reaction to the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol building, calling it “a direct assault on the US Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process,” and affirming President Elect Joe Biden as the constitutionally-valid incoming president.
According to the statement, the assault on the Capitol was “inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection” and stressed that the military “will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
The statement may have been just as much for internal consumption as external. The nation’s political divisions naturally extend to service members, and DoD pointedly “reemphasized” its “zero tolerance for service members or employees engaged in extremism, white supremacy or who belong to organizations that look to overturn the U.S Constitution.”
According to DoD, a senior official speaking on background noted that right-wing extremist groups recruit from the military and sometimes “encourage their members to join the military, for purposes of acquiring skills and experience.”
Acting defense secretary Chris Miller has reportedly “ordered a review of all policies, laws or regulations concerning participation by service members in extremist organizations,” and that is expected to result in “a report and recommendations concerning any initiatives we could put forward to more effectively prohibit extremists or hate group activity.”