Battleland

Military Extremists: Nothing to Bragg About

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Like many others, the question of military service and the mass shooting by Wade Page at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin got me curious.

So I simply Googled “military extremism Ft Bragg.”

A fascinating mélange of information surfaced, mainly from the Southern Law Poverty Center, but also from newspapers like Stars and Stripes, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the major daily near where the Sikh shooting took place.

Then-Major Walter Hudson, an Army lawyer, wrote about the topic in 1998, noting that there seemed to have been “an informal network of neo-Nazi skinheads in and around Fort Bragg”:

White supremacists have a natural attraction to the military.  They often see themselves as warriors, superbly fit and well-trained in survivalist techniques and weapons and poised for the ultimate conflict with various races.

I deployed from Fort Bragg, one of the Army’s biggest bases, in 1992 to Somalia, and have had numerous other visits there. But I had forgotten all of the skinhead activity there:

– There was the murder of a black couple in 1995 by a pair of Soldiers, apparently to earn their “spider web tattoos.”

– Nineteen Fort Bragg paratroopers were discharged for participating in neo-Nazi activities.

– Timothy McVeigh tried, and failed, to complete a special-forces course at Fort Bragg, which some authorities believe was the trigger that led him to kill 168 people by detonating a truck bomb he had parked next to the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Subsequently, Congress held hearings, and there was an Army task force on extremism. “The task force, formed Dec. 12, 1995, did find that individuals or small, informal groups of individuals hold extremist views,” a Pentagon summary of the report said. “Allegations or suspicions of widespread, concerted recruitment of soldiers for extremist causes, and participation by soldiers in organized extremist activities, were not substantiated.”

In a 2006 report – a decade after Fort Bragg’s extremists made news – the Southern Poverty Law Center said “large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists continue to infiltrate the ranks of the world’s best-trained, best-equipped fighting force.”

Army officials say they do their best to weed out extremists. But as Sunday’s slaughter in Oak Creek makes all too clear, one extremist in the ranks is one too many.

15 comments
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CivilianObserver
CivilianObserver

Dr. Ritchie - The fact that you wrote this is proundly disappointing. I am simply a civilian osberver, but the more I work with both active duty and military veterans - I see why so many would rather seek help with someone outside the system if THIS is what they get inside.

Heterotic
Heterotic

Another biased and poorly written article. It is also known that latino street gangs have infiltrated the military and steal weapons, but hey, this is America, one can only bash whites.

usmc32
usmc32

Ms Ritchie - Do you realize the percentage of neo -nazis at Fort Bragg 14 years ago (and kicked out of the Army, BTW) is lower than the percentage of terrorist William Ayers' friends elected to the White House?

James Blaine
James Blaine

This is lazy and sensationalist at best, reckless and inflammatory at worst.

An article based on a google search. You are joking right? Your “research” comes from Officer who was supposedly stationed at ft. Bragg in the 90’s yet you fail to state when that person left the Bragg facility or how long they were in fact on member of the Bragg/ Fayetteville community. The only frame of reference you provide is that the Major wrote about the topic in 1998. I don’t know about you guys but 14 years ago was a long time ago. The Army and the Country have changed immeasurably since then.

And just so the uninitiated have an idea:

·         19 out of a community of close to 30,000 soldiers at fort Bragg is an immensely small number. If the US population as a whole had that percentage of bad apples we could all leave our doors unlocked and have perfect strangers babysit our pets.

·         Timothy McVeigh failed out of a three week long course at Ft. Bragg decades ago. He was not stationed there. If you are suggesting he contracted racism through osmosis in his three weeks at Ft. Bragg, who am I to argue.

You are a no-go at this station. Please refrain from using a national tragedy to sensationalize and scrutinize our nation’s servicemen and women and defaming the Fort Bragg community. A word of advice; if you use google to do your homework, please filter results by events that happened at least in the previous decade.

FormerWarrant
FormerWarrant

You are an embarrassment.  Military Intelligence is not an oxymoron, but you, Colonel, are an embarrassing shill for people who have only one agenda; namely, to lower the esteem with which the American People hold the Armed Forces.  Sad, really.  I'm sure you had promise and integrity, at one time.

Kevin Brent
Kevin Brent

Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, maybe if you had been doing your damn job when were supposedly an Army head shrink, morons like Page would have been discovered before they acted out. But, I'm sure you were too busy bad mouthing the Army you wore the uniform of at the time. What kind of 'extremist' does that make you? Jackass.......

FemaleCyclist
FemaleCyclist

It's been over 14 years since Page served in the U.S. Army.  His white supremacy beliefs were no doubt influenced or developed while on active duty. However, his life became worse after leaving the service, not better.  So perhaps he was mentally twisted or gullible before  joining the military.

Even if Wade Michael Page was diagnosed with mental illness, it would have taken him a year or longer to receive VA disability. This is the ugly truth not being told by our politicians.  I served over 30 years in the U.S. military. Although I am receiving a monthly retirement pension, I am still waiting a year later for VA disability approval. Page served his country for 5 or 6 years, not long enough to earn a pension. If unemployed, his only source of healthcare coverage would be from the Veterans Administration.  Some high ranking official needs to contact the Veterans Administration in Wisconsin and see if Page applied for disability or not. This could be the tip of the iceberg...Vets going off the deep end because they lack adequate health care benefits and timely approval.  Just last year, another veteran in Washington shot a park ranger before killing himself. He too, had waited over a year for VA approval. The system is currently overwhelmed with returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

anonguest7619
anonguest7619

so  you are using this horrible tragedy to complain as someone who currently receives healthcare as well as 75% of their base pay?

mj1966
mj1966

Well, it depends on what kind of pre-school you went to. 

I agree, there does not seem to be any evidence that he had a service connected mental health issue or that he made a claim to the VA.  Why then do we have to attack a retiree because he has earned health and pension benefits?  Retiree benefits do not come from the VA, they are paid for and administered by the services.

anonguest7619
anonguest7619

 i am "attacking" because it's a nonsequitor.

mj1966
mj1966

No, he is demonstrating that this is a logically flawed, lazily written article that unfairly defames the Army and Ft Bragg .

First, he points out that Page was in the Army for a brief period a long time ago, and that any claim that the Army is responsible for or condoned his extremist views should be substantiated by some hard facts, not a Google searhc.

Secondly, he is highlighting the fact that the VA, who would be responsible for any of Page's service connected problems, takes an extraordinarily long time to process disability claims and get veterans the treatment they need.  

Nowhere does he complain about his well deserved pension or Tricare health benefits.

anonguest7619
anonguest7619

 i still fail to see the connection.

labeling Page as an Army veteran is just as goofy and lazy as calling me a "former preschool graduate." I have not seen any evidence that Page had legitimate medical issues that were not adequately addressed by the VA. Dragging the delay in compensation into this fight is like asking whether you brought your lunch or rode the bus this morning.

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