Training, discussions on extremism occur across 7th Fleet

SINGAPORE (March 12, 2021) - Sailors assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron Seven (DESRON 7) participate in a Navy-wide stand-down to address extremism in the ranks. DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Southeast Asia, builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements, and supports Expeditionary and Littoral warfighting commanders. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Lauren Chatmas)
SINGAPORE (March 12, 2021) - Sailors assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron Seven (DESRON 7) participate in a Navy-wide stand-down to address extremism in the ranks. DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Southeast Asia, builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements, and supports Expeditionary and Littoral warfighting commanders. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Lauren Chatmas)

Training, discussions on extremism occur across 7th Fleet

by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shannon Burns
U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

PHILIPPINE SEA - Commands throughout U.S. 7th Fleet are facilitating training and discussions on extremism within the ranks and how to address it. As part of the training, service members within the fleet are also reaffirming their sworn oath to support and defend the Constitution.

The Secretary of Defense ordered a stand-down in February in an effort to underline that the type of behavior exhibited by some past and present service members in recent months does not reflect, nor will be tolerated in, the overarching culture and activities of the American armed forces.

The training includes discussions on how to recognize signs of extremism, how acts of extremism and bigotry in and out of the military workplace are at direct opposition with their oath and Navy core values, and to how to circumvent it when possible, and how to ensure it is properly dealt with when not.

U.S. 7th Fleet Command Master Chief Jason Haka said that the 7th Fleet, in alignment with the rest of the Navy, must be united to eradicate extremism in the Navy.

“Hate, bigotry, closed-minded behaviors, and extremism have no room in our Navy and will not be tolerated. They are enemies to honor and justice and we must come together to defeat this enemy,” said Haka. “We have a duty to provide a shining example of what right looks like and it means to protect and defend all Americans and their rights outlined in the Constitution. We owe these efforts to our country and ourselves, not only as members of the uniformed services, but as American citizens.”

During the training, Sailors also discussed the Navy’s core values and how they tie into recognizing potential signs of extremism behavior.

Haka said the Navy’s core values guide Sailors in all their decisions, and serves as the best defense against hate and extremism.

“Our Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment are the bedrock of our way of life as Sailors,” said Haka. “Extremism is the antithesis of those values. It erodes that bedrock that we stand on and the foundation we continue to build the future of our service and our people upon. We owe it to our present and our future to ensure that every Sailor, every service member, and every American citizen is treated with dignity and respect.”

Sailors were also given the opportunity during the training to discuss their experiences with extremism while serving. Providing real, tangible examples of the damage these actions can cause to Sailors who may not have ever experienced them.

"We cannot be an effective team if there is extremism in our ranks,” said Senior Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician Mark Wiggan assigned to Destroyer Squadron 7. “Throughout my years in the Navy, I have learned that if we hold each other accountable for our actions, then it fosters a much better, safer, effective work environment. This stand-down was a great opportunity for us self-reflect and ensure we are being the best shipmates we can be."

Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class Brandon Z. Blanding, assigned to Task Force 70, said the training is a great place to begin but that the conversation shouldn’t end there.

“I believe it served as a solid starting point in the right direction, but we need to make sure it isn’t the end,” he said. “This issue cannot be solved from a one-time conversation as a check in the box because it is more important than that and it’s going to take time and effort to truly fix this issue.”

As the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet employs 50-70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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