PENTAGON — A Pentagon study aimed at identifying and rooting out extremism in the armed forces has led to the conclusion that the Marine Corps should be a banned extremist group by 2022.
“The Department of Defense convened a panel to study the roots of extremism after the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “We had to understand how a person becomes radicalized. And Jesus Christ did you know what the Marine Corps is like?”
Laura Goodwin, a researcher for the Rand Corporation, shared some data that informed the panel’s decision.
“When we asked recruits why they served in the Air Force, 54% said ‘college money,’ and 34% said ‘Patriotism or service to country,’ When we asked the same question to Marine Corps recruits, 18% cited ‘shoot a giant fucking machine gun,’ and 88% said ‘kicking in Bin Laden’s door, sneaking up to his bedroom, shooting his fucking beard face, and throwing a grenade on his sleeping innocent wives and children just to watch them writhe in pain,” Goodwin said before pausing to take a deep breath. “That’s a hard sentence to read out loud for a normal non-Marine but there you have it in the data.”
Marine Commandant Gen. David H. Berger disputed the study’s findings. “I don’t think we have an extremism problem in the Marine Corps,” Berger said. “I think we have an extremism tradition. Oorah! Kill! Kill! Kill!”
Experts point to groups like the Proud Boys or Antifa as extremist groups, but according to Rand, those groups are underdeveloped in recruitment, restructuring values, physical conditioning, and widespread cultural acceptance of extremist viewpoints when compared to organizations like the Marine Corps.
While there are many aspects of the Marine Corps that are good, like Motor Pool Monday and barracks parties, those activities were built on a backbone of “being ready to destroy absolutely anything, anywhere in the world, right fucking now,” officials said. Many Marines reported that they barely noticed that the organization’s foundational goals include going somewhere to indiscriminately kill, then pick up and move to another place, quickly, to indiscriminately kill, as they were more focused on getting paid to punch another man in the face.
“Blood makes the grass grow! Kill babies, oohrah!” responded Sgt. John Morgan, a 31-year-old well-adjusted man that is charming at dinner parties, when asked what the mission of the Marine Corps should be in the future.
Many of the Marines in the Rand study said they joined when they were in particularly economically and societally vulnerable situations. Joe (not his real name) explained that he had little access to education in his community and few job prospects. But when he was exposed to radical propaganda in a YouTube ad late at night, “all [he] could think about was slaying dragons and wearing white gloves and a sword.” Joe said that if he would have been able to attend college or find a good job, he probably wouldn’t have been susceptible to radicalization.
“We see this a lot,” said Goodwin. “Young men find radicalizing videos on the internet. It starts out as a curiosity, but they go deeper and deeper and find a community of extremist men, who isolate them from their friends, families, and the values they grew up on. Eventually, it escalates to the planning stage, where they find a strip mall with a Marine that matches the image from the radicalizing videos. The sad thing is that we spend a lot of money fighting extremism, but these young men are recruited for about $35 — the price of a USMC T-shirt and lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings.”
“When you find another man that thinks a K-bar dripping in human blood is ‘fucking sick,” it normalizes the behavior, Goodwin continued. “Eventually the two of you will use the same tattoo artist and marry the same stripper. At that point, you’re so entrenched it’s hard at that point to think that a nice job as an admin specialist in the Navy is an acceptable lifestyle.”
When asked for comment, Berger explained that plenty of Marines have good job prospects and healthy relationships with their families and communities, he just hadn’t found one yet, and “if you’re not a Marine you can’t understand us.”
Pentagon officials say known extremist dog whistles such as “Oorah” and “yut” have already been forbidden at bases around the world. During tattoo inspections, known extremist phrases like “Semper Fi” and eagle, globe and anchor motifs will be disqualifying. And Marine Corps Birthday balls must be open to the public and watched by neutral observers.
Plans to de-radicalize Marines and slowly transition them back to military service include encouraging them to spend time with mainstream military communities.
One promising pilot study placed Marines with Senior Airmen in air-conditioned dorms with clean running water. Within six weeks, 40% of participants stated that “They had their retirement all figured out and would just cruise on easy until then,” and 60% chose “getting an excellent evaluation,” as more important than “crushing a man’s windpipe with my bare hands.”
“The Department of Defense has shared core values of service, honor, and integrity, based on a long tradition of just war, the Geneva Conventions, ethical conduct, escalation of force and law of armed conflict,” Austin said, though his remarks were drowned out by a passing Marine platoon singing about blood making the green grass grow and putting claymores in children’s playgrounds.
While banning the Marine Corps is expected to address many aspects of military extremism and send an important message to Americans that extremism will not be tolerated, the underlying problems will be harder to address.
“I fully believe that we can ban the Marine Corps by 2022,” Berger said. “But we’re here because America wants us here. Try to stop that. YUT.”
Blondes Over Baghdad lets someone else take the top block because it’s the selfless service thing to do. She’ll go to ranger school when there’s a 3-beer policy. Follow her on Twitter at @BlondsOvrBaghd