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Irregular Army: How the US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terrorby Matt Kennard
Synopses & Reviews
Since the launch of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars—now the longest wars in American history—the US military has struggled to recruit troops. It has responded, as Matt Kennard’s explosive investigative report makes clear, by opening its doors to neo-Nazis, white supremacists, gang members, criminals of all stripes, the overweight, and the mentally ill. Based on several years of reporting, Irregular Army includes extensive interviews with extremist veterans and leaders of far-right hate groups—who spoke openly of their eagerness to have their followers acquire military training for a coming domestic race war. As a report commissioned by the Department of Defense itself put it, “Effectively, the military has a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy pertaining to extremism.”
Irregular Army connects some of the War on Terror’s worst crimes to this opening-up of the US military. With millions of veterans now back in the US and domestic extremism on the rise, Kennard’s book is a stark warning about potential dangers facing Americans—from their own soldiers.
"Financial Times writer Kennard highlights changes in U.S. military demographics in recent years in this chilling study. As a result of a dwindling recruitment pool, the armed forces offered 'moral waiver' to former criminals; obese enlistees were given medical waivers; those with alcohol or drug addictions were able to stay in the military without layoffs or treatment; age limits were increased; and IQ standards were lowered while recruiters' contact with secondary schools was increased. The military ranks now include gang members who have access not only to weapons, but to military training that has been put to use upon their return to the U.S. 'The military had become the perfect place to be a criminal simply because in it normal legal constraints didn't apply.' Tracing the politics before and after the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kennard spreads blame around evenly, from Reagan and Rumsfeld to Obama, and he closes by challenging the government to rethink its use of force around the globe, a cycle of violence he deems 'self-perpetuating' on account of the 'competitive advantage' of the United States military. Kennard's nonpartisan portrait of martial waywardness is foreboding, and will be illuminating for anyone interested in the modern army or contemporary public and foreign policy. (Sept. 18)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reveals the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to extremists in its ranks.
About the Author
Matt Kennard works for the Financial Times in Washington, DC and London and has written for Salon, the Chicago Tribune and the Guardian.
What Our Readers Are Saying
History and Social Science » Military » Afghan War (2001-)