The coming extremist tsunami in the Navy

While everyone was focused on the dumpster fire that is Afghanistan, an innocuous NAVADMIN (a Naval message that relates to administrative issues) came out on the 23rd of August, subject line OPNAVINST 3100.6K. NAVADMINs are normally pretty boring. They cover policy like how you can use your GI Bill, when people get promoted, or various annual awards.

OPNAVINST 3100.6 is the instruction that covers situation reports (SITREPs). SITREPs are required reports that Navy units send when bad things happen. For example, if a Sailor is arrested for drunk driving, a unit would notify their immediate superior in command (the “ISIC”) by using a formatted message called a Navy Unit Sitrep. OPNAVINST 3100.6 gives you the exact format to send this message, which are also called OPREP-3 messages (short for Operational Report). The instruction covers more serious messages too. In those cases, units might send an OPREP-3 Navy Blue message. This message goes to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) office, as well as the ISIC and others. Incidents that require a Navy Blue are more serious or carry negative media attention, hence the need to notify the CNO lest he be surprised. A good example was when COVID-19 was first discovered, any Navy person that contracted it required an OPREP-3 Navy Blue message.

The most recent change to OPNAVINST 3100.6 is now version K and added this section:

4. MAJOR PERSONNEL INCIDENT CHANGES INCLUDE: [SRB, EXTREMIST BEHAVIORS,
BULLYING, ETC.]
4.A. ADDED PERSONNEL INCIDENT REPORTING FOR SUPREMACIST OR EXTREMIST
BEHAVIORS.

Bullying? Supremacist Activity? Extremist Activity? Yup, these all require varying forms of Navy Sitrep messages. We don’t know what level (that’s not released), so we have to guess what becomes a Unit Sitrep and what becomes a Navy Blue. At a minimum, every time we have something resembling bullying, supremacist or extremist activity, a message must be sent out.

This becomes a tsunami of messages when we define extremist groups as:

– an organization that espouses supremacist causes;
– attempts to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex (including gender identity), sexual orientation or religion;
– advocates using force or violence;
– or otherwise engages in efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.

Navy Discussion Guide on Extremism

So, if a Navy member participates in an Antifa protest, do we label him as an extremist? They certainly “advocate for the use of violence.”

What about Black Panthers?

A Black Panther Party member brings a shotgun into the state Capitol, May 2, 1967. He was one of two dozen armed Panthers who entered the building. (Photo: Walt Zeboski/Associated Press)

What if someone accuses Republicans of “depriving them of civil rights” (like we’re seeing with the voter registration issues)?

Vox headline

Is being a Catholic extremist because they won’t give Communion to someone that is openly living a homosexual lifestyle?

The problem with this broad definition is that it is broad and goal posts move all the time. People used to argue that homosexual unions would never impact Christians, until Christian bakers were sued for not making wedding cakes. Or the goal post moves the other way, and protests that burned down homes and businesses become “mostly peaceful,” and obviously didn’t incite any violence whatsoever. BTW, it’s been illegal to be in extremist groups since 1990, and people do get kicked out for racism (watch episode four of the PBS series Carrier for an example).

Besides, didn’t we make service members sit through training for this that covered:

Speech that incites violence or criminal activity that threatens to undermine our government and Constitution is not protected by the First Amendment.

and Vandalizing government property and storming a police barrier is not an exercise of First Amendment
rights.

Extremists don’t have a place in our Navy, but when we make the definition really broad, soon we’re all going to get painted as extremists. When that happens (and its a when now, not an if), why would you want to join the Navy? Remember that the Navy is constantly bringing in new people, to the tune of around 40,000 every year. People sign up for a variety of reasons, but one big assumption is the fairness and meritocratic environment that the Navy claims to have. When you remove that, or even appear to do so, it removes a large incentive to join. It’s already hard enough to get people to join, especially if you want people with high technical skills. I fear that this change is going to drive people to leave after a first enlistment and not bother staying around, if for no other reason then the worry they’ll be labeled as a bully or extremist.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

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