Four of the country's uniformed military leaders have condemned the deadly racist violence on display in Charlottesville, Va., and said it is not welcome in the military.
Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said Tuesday there is "no place for racial hatred or extremism" in the service following reports that a former Marine recruiter was the leader of one hate group that clashed with counterprotesters on Saturday in Charlottesville.
The Army chief of staff, Gen. Mark Milley, said early Wednesday morning his service will not tolerate "racism, extremism or hatred" among its soldiers and that it is "against our values and everything we stood for since 1775."
This week, it was learned that the man accused of driving a vehicle into counterprotesters, killing one of them, failed out of Army basic training two years ago.
The Army doesn't tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It's against our Values and everything we've stood for since 1775.— GEN Mark A. Milley (@ArmyChiefStaff) August 16, 2017
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein followed suit late Wednesday morning, saying he "stands with my fellow service chiefs."
Navy Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, was the first service chief to address the crisis, sending a tweet out on Saturday saying "events in Charlottesville [are] unacceptable and must not be tolerated" and that the service "forever stands against intolerance and hatred."
The top military leaders joined numerous others who condemned the white nationalist groups who rallied around a Confederate statue in the Virginia college town, even as their commander in chief, President Trump, faces a fierce backlash over his handling of the incident.
Trump made a public statement Saturday as the violence was unfolding, but after a day of public criticism for not directly condemning KKK, Nazi and other racist groups that participated, he made another statement Monday calling them out by name as thugs and criminals.
However, in a freewheeling press conference Tuesday, the president said both sides were responsible for the violence and put some of the blame with counterprotest groups he called the "alt-left."
In addition to confronting the issue of former military members who took part in this weekend's brawl in Charlotte, the military has also had to address extremists wearing clothing affiliated with the services.
The official account for the 82nd Airborne Division, for example, responded to Twitter users who noted that an extremist was photographed wearing a ballcap with the unit's insignia.
Would *LOVE* to know the name of Mr. 82nd Airborne Division here rendering Hitler's Nazi salute. The 82nd jumped into Normandy on D-Day. pic.twitter.com/oObJNgXzEI— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) August 13, 2017
Who knows? THIS is what an All American Paratrooper looks like. Rock Merritt jumped into Normandy on D Day, Njiemgen, fought in Bulge pic.twitter.com/vaps5fU0jb— All American (@82ndABNDiv) August 14, 2017