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NEWS | April 19, 2021

Tough Conversations: Addressing extremism in the ranks

By Dreshawn Murray 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Members of Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph partook in the biweekly “Tough Conversations” roundtable hosted by 502nd Air Base Wing leadership April 14.

Facilitated by JBSA command team -- Brig. Gen. Caroline M. Miller, 502nd ABW and JBSA commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Wendell Snider -- participants discussed extremism and how this poses a threat to the Department of the Air Force.

This comes on the heels of an Air Force-wide Stand Down day ordered by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III to address the issues of extremist ideologies in the ranks and reinforce Department of Defense members' fundamental commitment to the United States Constitution.

“We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share,” Miller said, “There is no place in our Air Force for extremist or dissident ideologies.”

Some roundtable participants shared experiences that they have encountered dealing with extremist ideologies and how it affected their workspace.

Miller expressed to them how these beliefs are damaging and why diversity is important in the military.

“Diversity makes us stronger as a unit and is true to our culture," the general said."Working in diverse teams opens up a dialogue that we must continue to have.”

One individual brought up concerns of how extremist views not directly affiliated with the military can still have a negative impact on the military.

Snider said that this starts at the top and that leaders need to be aware of this.

“As leaders, we would be naïve to think what happens outside of the gate does not affect our Airmen inside the gate.”

The chief told the roundtable participants that this is a continuous process and that these conversations are the first of many steps needed to combat this issue.

“This is an intensive effort to better educate ourselves and our people about the magnitude of this problem," Snider added. "We must find ways together to eradicate extremist ideology in our ranks.”

General Miller and Chief Snider concluded the roundtable by expressing their thanks to all participants and reiterated to them that these tough conversations are important to have often.

“Tough Conversations” focuses on important, challenging and impactful topics that affect the Air Force and DOD. The series fosters an open and candid dialogue between 502d ABW senior leaders and service members and civilians of all ranks and backgrounds.