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Misawa Air Base Extremism Stand-Down Day

Uniformed military members and civilians sitting at a table listen to a brief.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Bryant Tomlin,35th Fighter Wing Director of Staff, lead one of the 35th Fighter Wing Staff Agency’s breakout group discussions for the Extremism Stand-Down Day at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 26, 2021. The stand-down was directed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Feb. 5th after current and former service members participated in the Jan. 6 violence at the United States Capitol. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tec. Sgt. Chris Jacobs

Uniformed service member leads a group discussion to people sitting at a table

U.S. Air Force Maj. Bryant Tomlin, 35th Fighter Wing Director of Staff, lead one of the 35th Fighter Wing Staff Agency’s breakout group discussions for the Extremism Stand-Down Day at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 26, 2021. The stand-down was directed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Feb. 5th after current and former service members participated in the Jan. 6 violence at the United States Capitol.

Military members and civilians receive a briefing in an conference room.

Members of the 35th Fighter Wing Staff Agency gathered together to hear video messages from senior Department of Defense officials, Col. Jesse J. Friedel, 35th Fighter Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Joey R. Meininger, 35th Fighter Wing command chief at Misawa Air Base, Japan, during the Extremism Stand-Down Day March 26, 2021. After the initial remarks, the Fighter Wing Staff Agency, along with the rest of the units on base, broke out into smaller groups to discuss various facets of extremism in the military.

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

The 35th Fighter Wing hosted an Extremism Stand-Down Day March 26, in compliance with Secretary of Defense LLoyd J. Austin III’s direction that commanding officers and supervisors at all levels conduct a stand-down to address the issues of extremism in the ranks.

 

Austin directed the stand-down on Feb. 5, nearly one month after current and former service members participated in the Jan. 6 violence at the United States Capitol.

 

The day began with a pre-recorded video messages from senior Department of Defense officials, Col. Jesse J Friedel, 35th Fighter Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Joey R. Meininger, 35th Fighter Wing command chief – emphasizing the importance of the oaths service members take when committing to military service, and explained how extremist ideologies do not align with military service.

 

“We will not tolerate groups or individuals within our ranks that advocate for hate or exclusion,” Friedel stated. He then placed a charter to the Airmen of the 35 Fighter Wing, directing personnel to “please go forward and hold earnest, focused and healthy discussions on extremism. Be vigilant to identify and combat extremist ideology. We are the strongest force on the planet because we are part of a team that values diversity and inclusion, and we create an environment where everyone is given equal opportunity to reach their greatest potential.”

 

Airmen then broke out into small groups to accommodate open communication and dialogue lead by facilitators. Topics included in the discussion included defining extremism, pathways to violence, going from belief to extremist ideology, and criminal threats to service members. Airmen were also encouraged to ask questions and share personal experiences they may have had regarding the various topics.

 

“This wasn’t a one way conversation,” said Master Sgt. Christian Pagan Guzman, an Extremism Stand-Down Day coordinator. “By having these conversations in smaller groups, with people airmen feel comfortable with, we provided an environment that encouraged our teammates to talk about their experiences and show others that these beliefs aren’t just held ‘out there.’ We owe it to our nation and our brothers and sisters in arms to eradicate extremist mentalities from our ranks.”