Civilian barred 'for supporting violent behavior against the U.S. government'

Jim Thompson
Northwest Florida Daily News

EGLIN AFB — A civilian employee of the Air Force Materiel Command, who might or might not work at Eglin Air Force Base, has been barred from entering the installation where he is employed "for supporting violent behavior against the U.S. government," according to an AFMC spokesman.

Richard Hoiles, a public affairs specialist at AFMC headquarters at Ohio's Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, confirmed the civilian employee's barring by email to the Daily News on Wednesday.

But Hoiles said in the email that "to protect the employee’s privacy as well as the integrity of the administrative process associated with possible employment actions, we are not naming the installation at this time."

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Additionally, according to Hoiles' email, "privacy protections prevent release of any additional information regarding investigatory activities or the individual’s employment status."

Supporters of President Donald Trump break into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)

Along with Wright-Patterson, Eglin is one of eight host bases for Air Force Materiel Command. The other host bases are Arnold AFB, Tennessee; Edwards AFB, California; Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts; Hill AFB, Utah; Robins AFB, Georgia; and Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

The AFMC's mission covers technology development, testing and evaluation, and acquisition management. Overall, the command employs almost 90,000 people.

Air Force Materiel Command, which has units across the Air Force, including at Eglin AFB, is not saying where one of its civilian employees, barred from his workplace for supporting violent behavior against the U.S. government, is employed.

There are a number of units at Eglin that are a part of AFMC, including the 96th Test Wing, the installation's host unit, along with the Air Force Research Laboratory's Armament Directorate and its Munitions Directorate.

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Also at Eglin are operating units of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex and the Air Delivered Capabilities Directorate, according to an AFMC fact sheet.

In a Wednesday email to the Daily News, an Eglin spokeswoman said she did not have any information regarding the news coming out of AFMC headquarters and suggested that the Daily News contact AFMC's public affairs office.

Political extremism in the ranks of the U.S. military has been a focus of the Department of Defense since its acknowledgement earlier this year that some of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol were active-duty military personnel.

The assault, widely believed to have been carried out by far-right extremists including supporters of former President Donald Trump, resulted in four deaths, including a female Air Force veteran fatally shot by U.S. Capitol Police as a crowd forced its way into the Speaker's Lobby section of the Capitol.

Three other people died as a result of medical emergencies, and a Capitol Police officer died the following day of injuries suffered during the assault. Two other law enforcement officers in the Capitol at the time of the assault subsequently committed suicide.

Riot police clear the hallway inside the Capitol on  Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

On Feb. 5, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin ordered a one-day "stand-down" across the American military services "to discuss extremism in the ranks with their personnel," in the words of a Department of Defense (DoD) news release on the directive.

The directive gave military units 60 days from its issuance to schedule their stand-downs.

Eglin AFB's extremism stand-down was held March 26. It included small-group settings at the unit level, virtual sessions held digitally through Microsoft Teams, and email for Eglin personnel on teleworking status, according to Ilka Cole, chief of media operations for the pubic affairs unit of the 96th Test Wing, the base's host unit.

The training included a four-part video featuring Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's thoughts on extremism, as well as the thoughts of Air Force and Space Force leadership on the subject. The stand-down also addressed impermissible behaviors for military personnel, according to Cole, and included closing remarks from Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, commander of the 96th Test Wing.