Dark Secret of the US Military -- Neo-Nazis and Criminals Are Filling Its Ranks
The following is an excerpt from " Irregular Army: How The US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, And Criminals To Fight The War On Terror," by Matt Kennard (Verso Books, 2012).
My journey into the dark underworld of the US military begins on a rainy Tuesday morning in March 2008, with a visit to Tampa, Florida. I am here to meet Forrest Fogarty, an American patriot who served in the US army for two years in Iraq. Fogarty is also a white supremacist of the serious Hitler-worshipping type.
We meet in his favourite hangout, the Winghouse Bar & Grill. In our brief phone call, I'd asked how I would recognise him. "Just look for the skinhead with the tattoos," he said. And sure enough, sitting straight to my right as I walk in is a youngish-looking man, plastered in tattoos, with cropped hair and bulging biceps. "You're British, right," he says, as we order. "I remember seeing black guys with British accents in Iraq, shit was so crazy."
Fogarty tells me he was bullied at his LA high school by Mexican and African-American children, and was just 14 when he decided he wanted to be a Nazi. He has no qualms about flaunting his prejudice. When black people come into the bar, he emits a hiss of disapproval. "I just don't want to be around them," he tells me. "I don't want to look at them, I don't want them near me."
As a young man, Fogarty was obsessed with Ian Stuart Donaldson, the legendary singer in the British band Skrewdriver, who is hero-worshipped in the neo-Nazi music scene. At 16, he had an image from one of Skrewdriver's album covers – a Viking carrying an axe, an icon among white nationalists – tattooed on his left forearm. Soon after, he had a Celtic cross, an Irish symbol appropriated by neo-Nazis, emblazoned on his stomach. A few years later, he started his own band, Attack, now one of the biggest Nazi bands in the US. But it was never his day job. "I was a landscaper when I left school," he says. "I kind of fell into it. I didn't give a shit what I was doing, I was just drinking and fighting."
For the next eight years he drifted through jobs in construction and landscaping, and began hanging out with the National Alliance, at the time one of the biggest neo-Nazi organisations in the US. He soon became a member. He had always seen himself as a fighter and warrior, so he resolved to do what two generations of Fogartys had done before him: join the military.
Fogarty was not the first extremist to enter the armed forces. The neo-Nazi movement has had a long and tense relationship with the US military. Since its inception, the leaders of the white supremacist movement have encouraged their members to enlist. They see it as a way for their followers to receive combat and weapons training, courtesy of the US government, and then to bring what they learn home to undertake a domestic race war. Not all far-right groups subscribe to this vision – some, such as the Ku Klux Klan, claim to prefer a democratic approach – but a large portion see themselves as insurrectionary forces. To that end, professional training in warfare is a must.
The US military has long been aware of these groups' attempts at infiltration, but it wasn't until 1996 that supremacist and neo-Nazi groups were specifically banned from the military, after the murder in 1995 of two African-Americans by a neo-Nazi paratrooper stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fogarty was recruited the year after.