White Supremacist Extremists Leveraging Military Expertise

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Domestic white supremacist extremist groups are likely to leverage current and former military personnel within their ranks to train members in tactics that include squad movements, combat and self-defense techniques, and firearms usage. Since the “Unite the Right” rally in August, white supremacist extremists have employed military-style trainings to prepare for what they perceive as an upcoming race war and to clash with counter-protest groups nationwide.

  • In January, a former US military service member instructed supporters of the ShieldWall Network, a white supremacist group that aims to create a white ethnostate, in squad movement and military tactics. During the training exercise, the service member stated, “…you get 15-20 guys all dressed in the same uniform, holding shields, [marching together], it has a psychological effect…and it intimidates people.”
  • Since December, a leader of Patriot Front, a white supremacist organization based in Texas, trained members in hand-to-hand combat and self-defense, which he claimed were learned while serving in the Marine Corps. Additionally, he emphasized physical fitness for both personal protection and as a way to attract recruits, according to open-source reporting.
  • Last fall, a member of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi organization, trained members on how to use firearms in combat. According to open-source reporting, he learned these skills while serving in the US Army as a combat engineer. He later stated that he could construct weapons for the group and advocated for enlistment into the military to gain combat and survival proficiency.

Case Study: Atomwaffen Division Training Camps

Over the last two years, the Atomwaffen Division has hosted training camps in different locations across the United States in order to hone its members’ military and survival skills, including firearms usage and self-defense techniques. In December, the Atomwaffen Division posted a video online of one of the trainings, located in the Midwest, where members traveled from New Jersey and other states to attend.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.