The U.S. Air Force has elevated an investigation into a former Space Force commander who was fired for comments made during a podcast promoting his new book, which claims Marxist ideologies are becoming prevalent in the United States military.
A command-directed investigation into Lt Col. Matthew Lohmeier, who last week was fired as commander of 11th Space Warning Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, will now be investigated by the Air Force Inspector General, officials announced Thursday.
The Space Force falls under the Department of the Air Force.
"The decision was made by the Department of the Air Force Inspector General due to the complexity and sensitivity of the issues under consideration, as well as potential for DAF-wide impact," Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in the announcement.
The new review supersedes the command-level investigation, overseen by Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, head of Space Operations Command, Stefanek said. As a result, that review has been suspended, she said.
Whiting removed Lohmeier last week over a loss of confidence in his ability to lead after Lohmeier made public comments about his military experience to promote the self-published book, "Irresistible Revolution: Marxism's Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military," Military.com first reported.
During a 34-minute taped segment for "Information Operation," hosted by Creative Destruction, or CD, Media, Lohmeier stated that diversity and inclusion training -- something that the Pentagon has given prominence in order to eradicate extremism in the ranks -- is "rooted in critical race theory, which is rooted in Marxism."
Lohmeier has been reassigned into a non-leadership role at Buckley, Michael Pierson, spokesman for Space Operations Command, said in an email Thursday.
Lohmeier said he didn't seek to criticize any particular senior leader or publicly identify troops within the book, he said during the podcast. Rather, he said, he focused on the policies service members now have to adhere to to align with certain agendas "that are now affecting our culture."
Regarding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, he said, "I don't demonize the man, but I want to make it clear to both him and every service member this [diversity and inclusion] agenda, it will divide us, it will not unify us."
Austin on Feb. 5 ordered all military services to observe a one-day stand-down on extremism in the ranks.
"My intent never has been to engage in partisan politics," Lohmeier told Military.com in an email last week.
"I have written a book about a particular political ideology (Marxism) in the hope that our Defense Department might return to being politically non-partisan in the future as it has honorably done throughout history," he added.
During a briefing Tuesday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby addressed questions about Lohmeier's removal, and whether Lohmeier had consulted the proper officials prior to publication.
"Anytime you're gonna write a book based on your military experiences or about military matters, and you're using your rank and title, and your service, as a credentialing opportunity, as an author, you do have to get a policy review by the Department of Defense," Kirby said.
"I think the Air Force has already addressed the issue that there was no policy review."
For a self-published work, policies that may apply include DoD Directive 1344.10 and associated guidelines discussing political activity in uniform. According to the services' standards, personnel may express their views freely, but they are still expected to uphold their branch's core values both on and off duty.
The Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review, for example, requires all current, former and retired Defense Department employees, contractors, and military service members -- whether active or reserve -- who have had access to DoD information, facilities, or who signed an non-disclosure agreement to "submit DoD information intended for public release to the appropriate office for review and clearance."
DoD information can include "any work that relates to military matters, national security issues, or subjects of significant concern to the Department of Defense in general, to include fictional novels, stories and biographical accounts of operational deployments and wartime experiences," according to the office.
"I was apprised of the option to have my book reviewed at the Pentagon's prepublication and security review prior to release, but was also informed that it was not required," Lohmeier told Military.com, adding he consulted with base legal counsel and public affairs.
The Air Force did not say when the investigation is expected to conclude.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.