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CIWT Holds Extremism in the Ranks Stand-Down

10 March 2021

From Glenn Sircy, Center for Information Warfare Training

The Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT) held a stand-down to address extremism in the ranks as ordered by Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) Lloyd Austin and in compliance with Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday, March 10.
PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT) held a stand-down to address extremism in the ranks as ordered by Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) Lloyd Austin and in compliance with Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday, March 10.

Initially ordered by SECDEF in a Feb. 5 memo to the individual services, the Navy reinforced it will not tolerate extremism in the ranks and outlined the details and expectations for a "period of reflection" that all commands must complete by April 2.

“The intent of this stand-down (which may be conducted virtually or in-person with the appropriate COVID-19 mitigations) is to ensure service members and civilian personnel clearly understand the damaging effects of extremism and begin developing more effective, sustainable ways to eliminate the corrosive impacts extremist activity can have on our Force,” wrote Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, Jr. in NAVADMIN 044/21, released, Feb. 19. “As public servants, we took an oath to the Constitution and we will not tolerate those who participate in actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, particularly actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies. Service members, Department of Defense civilians and all those who support our mission, are entitled to an environment free of discrimination, hate and harassment.”

The stand-down was intended to be the first step to address extremism in the ranks, and thoughtful reflection and candid discussions were led by CIWT’s command triad and training facilitators.

It was conducted in two phases with Phase 1 as an all hands call and Phase 2 as nine separate small group discussions. During the all hands call, videos from SECDEF and Rear Adm. Pete Garvin, commander, Naval Education and Training Command, were also shared and viewed.

“Today’s stand-down reinforces our enduring commitment to ensure the entire CIWT domain force functions under the premise of inclusion for all and that everyone is treated with dignity and respect,” shared Capt. Marc Ratkus, commanding officer of CIWT. “Extremist behavior is contrary to our Navy values, harms us all and actively espousing ideologies that encourage discrimination, hate, and harassment against others will not be tolerated within the CIWT domain.”

The stand-down emphasized that positive culture change and eradication of extremism in the ranks, both in individual commands and throughout the Navy, is every Sailor’s and civilian’s responsibility. The stand-down was also a critical opportunity for the entire CIWT team to listen, learn and improve. In particular, this stand-down moved the discussion and focus forward to the core of this issue.

In his Feb. 9, 2021 Message to the Fleet Regarding Extremism, the CNO sent a clear message: “As a Navy - uniform and Civilian, active and reserve - we cannot tolerate extremist behavior of any kind, and must engage in open and honest conversations with each other and take action . . . 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. If we must first question the intentions of our Shipmate standing the watch with us, now, and especially, when taking fire, we will fail when the Nation needs us most in combat.”

CIWT leaders also led a group re-administration and reaffirmation of the oath of office/oath of enlistment for officers, civilian and enlisted personnel.

Some key take-aways from the stand-down include:

- Extremist and supremacist behaviors are harmful to our Navy and prohibited.

- They are contrary to the Navy Culture of Excellence, our Core Values, Attributes and our Signature Behaviors of the 21st Century Sailor/Civilian.

- They also violate provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Department of Defense and Navy policy, and can result in criminal or administrative accountability, including loss of security clearance.

- While we all enjoy the First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech, an individual military member’s rights are balanced with the mission requirement of maintaining loyalty to the United States and good order and discipline in a military force.

In closing, Ratkus shared, “We appreciate your participation in today’s stand-down and discussions as we recommit to eradicating extremism from within our Navy ranks. Every voice matters, your feedback is essential to the success of this stand-down, and the policies that drive positive changes in this subject for you, the Sailors and civilians that follow your footsteps now and in the future.”

For CIWT personnel that couldn’t participate in today’s stand-down, they will participate in the make-up scheduled for March 16.

With four schoolhouse commands, a detachment, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT trains over 22,000 students every year, delivering trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. CIWT also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community.

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