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Defense secretary ordered stand down to address extremism; JBLM is still figuring out how

By ABBIE SHULL | The News Tribune | Published: February 28, 2021

(Tribune News Service) — Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Army and Air Force units are still working out the details of what the Department of Defense's stand-down order will look like for their service members.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered every command in the Department of Defense to take a one-day break from normal operations to lead a discussion on extremism in the military. The order was signed Feb. 5 and must be completed by April 6.

"We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies. Service members, DOD civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment," Austin wrote in the memo.

The stand down comes after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. An NPR report found that one in five participants in the riot were former or current U.S. service members.

A former Washington Guardsman was indicted Jan. 14 for his role in the riot.

JBLM has been in a holding pattern for the last few weeks, knowing that its service members would need to participate in the one-day stand down but waiting on more details from the Pentagon about the order.

The 62nd Airlift Wing at JBLM will conduct the stand down on April 5, but a spokesperson said leaders are still in the planning stages of the event.

JBLM's I Corps will conduct the stand down on March 3, according to a public affairs spokesperson.

What will actually happen that day has been delegated to unit commanders, but an I Corps spokesperson said the stand-down would include a "standardized Extremism Training Support Package to aid in their discussions."

Washington's National Guard also will observe the stand down but a spokesperson for the guard said they are still waiting on guidance from the National Guard Bureau.

When the Navy conducts it's daylong stand down, sailors, including those at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and Naval Station Everett, will be required to reaffirm the oath they took to the U.S. constitution, according to a service-wide message from Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral John Nowell.

Nowell said the Navy stand downs will focus on the "damaging effects of extremism."

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