Gen. David Berger, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, has ordered that all “Confederate-related paraphernalia” be removed from Marine installations worldwide, military.com reported Thursday.
The directive came shortly after a congressional hearing on the rise of the racist ideology of white nationalism in the military.
In addition to the ban on Confederate symbols, the general also ordered Marine leadership to work to deploy more women in combat roles, including positions leading infantry battalions. Directives also pushed the Marines to explore the possibility of yearlong maternity leave and to extend current parental leave benefits to same-sex couples in the service.
The U.S. has witnessed a troubling rise of white nationalist extremism since Trump’s election, and the military is no different. Several Marines have been punished or kicked out of the service for racist social media posts, prompting Congress to push the Pentagon to better monitor extremism in its ranks.
A survey published by the Military Times earlier this month found more than 50 percent of minority service members reported recently witnessing instances of ideological racism, like white nationalism. More than a third of all active-duty troops reported witnessing such instances of racism, including “racist language and discriminatory attitudes from peers, but also more specific examples like swastikas being drawn on service members’ cars, tattoos affiliated with white supremacist groups, stickers supporting the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-style salutes between individuals.” Those types of extremist attitudes rose by nearly two-thirds from the previous year’s survey.