Flag retreat ceremony marks end of Extremism Stand Down exercises at Arnold AFB

  • Published
  • By Jill Pickett

Members of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex workforce gathered April 6 to observe a flag retreat ceremony signaling the completion of the Extremism Stand Down exercises at Arnold Air Force Base.

“In a longstanding military tradition, the retreat ceremony honors what we protect as military, civilians and contractors,” said Col. Jeffrey Geraghty, AEDC commander, in an invitation to the workforce to attend.

On Feb. 5, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a memo directing all commanding officers and supervisors at all levels to conduct a one-day stand down to address extremism in the ranks, to be completed within 60 days.

According to the memo, the exercises were to focus on the importance of the oath of office and review a description of impermissible behaviors and procedures for reporting suspected or actual extremist behaviors in accordance with DOD Instruction 1325.06, “Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces.”

“We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies,” Austin said in the memo. “Service members, DOD civilian employees and all those who support our mission deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate and harassment. It is incumbent upon each of us to ensure that actions associated with these corrosive behaviors are prevented. Commanders, supervisors and all those who hold a leadership position within the Department have a special responsibility to guard against these behaviors and set the example for those they lead.”

During the ceremony at Arnold AFB, Geraghty invited military officers, enlisted Airmen and DOD civilians to reaffirm their respective oaths of office.

“Our constitution triumphs because we the people abide by the outcomes determined by our fellow citizens in a democratic process, even when we disagree,” Geraghty said. “It triumphs because it divides the powers of government among three separate and co-equal branches. It triumphs because it subverts the ultima ratio of political power, military force, to its duly-elected civilian masters, the President and the Secretary of Defense. So, let us renew our pledge to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Members of the Tennessee Society of the Sons of the American Revolution performed the flag retreat ceremony, assisted by AEDC’s Master Sgt. Don Wilson, complete with musket and cannon fire.