krulak4_Michael NigroPacific PressLightRocket via Getty Images_capitol riot Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The US Military and the Capitol Mob

The disproportionate share of insurrectionists at the US Capitol with a military background are not representative of the armed forces as a whole. Nonetheless, as the divide between the military and US civilian society grows, even more attention will need to be paid to weeding out extremists.

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – Revelations that the insurrection at the US Capitol included many former and current members of America’s armed forces have been met with alarm. And yet, as a 35-year veteran and retired commandant of the US Marine Corps, I saw the events of January 6 as the predictable culmination of a growing disconnect between the US military and civilian society.

It is a rift with deep historical roots. When the United States emerged victorious from World War II, it had met a series of clearly articulated strategic goals. Whether or not they wore a uniform, Americans had been “all in,” eagerly making the sacrifices necessary to defeat the Axis powers. When the war was over, US servicemen and women returned to a country that was proud of what they had accomplished, united, and eager to move forward.

Once home, many veterans joined organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, where they were surrounded by like-minded people who had served, suffered, and sacrificed together. Jobs were plentiful, and Americans took pride in their country and their military.