The U.S. Military's History of Recruiting and Retaining Neo-Nazis

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A man holding a rifle in front of a flag with a swastika on it. (Wikipedia Commons)

When Wade Michael Page allegedly attacked the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin this past weekend, there was a lot to be shocked by. There was the reality of the act itself. There was his identification as a neo-Nazi. And, most shocking to many, was the fact that he was a former member of the U.S. armed forces.

Wade, however, is not the first neo-Nazi veteran to have committed murder in the United States. In countless lower-radar cases, extremist veterans have brought violence from the military base to the home front.

Matthew Kennard has investigated the crossover between the military and hate groups. He’s the author of “Irregular Army: How the U.S. Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror.” The book comes out next month.

Facing flagging recruiting numbers during two major conflicts, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military lowered its standards. To maintain enough troops, standards were lowered to accept not only criminals, overweight people, and people with low IQs, but gang members and white supremacists. 

Regulations were relaxed to the extent that recruits with swastika tattoos had little to no difficulty enlisting in the armed forces. "In times of chronic troop needs, like the War on Terror, they need wiggle room so that they can retain these people and maintain the troops." 

"In my research, basically, white supremacists and neo-Nazi activists see the military as a way to gain military training courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, and to bring back to the U.S. and start a domestic race war," Kennard says.
"It really does call into question the whole pretext of the War on Terror if the U.S. military, which we were told was trying to spread freedom and democracy in the Middle East, was sending these people that were basically wanting to arm themselves to start a domestic war in the United States, which Page shows can end up in some of the most horrendous massacres that the U.S. has seen." 
"There are many ways to detect white supremacist soldiers if the will is there. During the War on Terror, the will wasn't there." 
"In terms of future attacks in the United States, it might already be too late because they've spent 10 years training some of the most violent people in the United States," Kennard says. "That's the scary thing."


Matthew Kennard

Produced by:

Robert Balint and Kristen Meinzer

Comments [5]


Yes, but as someone who serves in active duty army, I have been repeatedly verbally sexually assaulted both by neo-nazis as well as mexican gangsters, the latter squealing in my face that he was proud to be a spic and that made him into a tough warrior, including actual attempts of rape by rangers.

Aug. 10 2012 10:51 PM

Omitted from this whole speculative nonsense is that Page was not given an honorable discharge. Kennard knows NOTHING about Page yet "speculates" that he had skin head tattoos back when he was enlisted - this passes for news. An entire segment on this guys speculation. This takes the trend of passing off opinion as factual news to an even higher level.

Aug. 09 2012 12:40 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Training people to kill who start out with hate in their heart, creates monsters. Ironically, we want to train humanitarians who use killing as a last resort.

What a nutty, nutty story. It sounded like a modern version of "the dirty dozen" where Telly Savalas plays a racist who almost screws up the whole mission because of his hatred for the black member on the team,Jim Brown."

Aug. 09 2012 10:24 AM
Malik from Detroit

Just as the Waffen SS was a priceless tool for a hyper militarized Germany, these fanatics are the same for a country that spends almost a trillion dollars on improving its warring capabilities each year. One moment they are your worst enemy (al Qaeda) the next moment they are the final ingredient in the struggle against countries/entities like Iran Syria and hizzbollah. Please stop acting so shocked. America has a long way to go before it finishes reshaping the world to resemble itself. Let's be opened about it and award these lads the iron cross with oak leaves I mean the purple heart and forget this Sikh temple tragedy never happened.

Aug. 09 2012 09:04 AM
Shantel from Anchorage, AK

I was an active duty soldier from 1996-2000. In 1999 I was tasked to be a lifeguard at Fort Richardson, AK. I saw several nazi, skinhead and white supremacy tattoos. When i asked tge EEO officer about it, I was told that as long as a soldier's tattoo's did not show while they were in uniform, there was nothing that could be done.

Aug. 09 2012 08:27 AM

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