While FBI and law enforcement officials do not have estimates on the number of gang members in the military[,] officials have seen gangs in 100 jurisdictions in the U.S. and overseas with 53 different gangs who are in every branch of the military.
Gang recruitment of active duty military personnel constitutes a significant criminal threat to the U.S. military, the threat assessment noted. NGIC [National Gang Intelligence Center] reporting indicates that law enforcement officials in at least 100 jurisdictions have come into contact with, detained, or arrested an active duty or former military gang member within the past three years.
The FBI report, the National Gang Threat Assessment, paints a disturbing picture. The 33,000 officially designated gangs in the United States are using social media such as YouTube, Facebook, and Web chat rooms to attract new members, a tactic that has helped swell their ranks to 1.4 million nationwide. This is a staggering 40 percent increase over 2009, although officials claim that this difference is probably the result of more accurate recent data compiled by state and local law enforcement agencies.
As for the spillover into the military, officials say that some of it is driven by young men who join the services in an attempt to leave the gang lifestyle; how successful all of them are at shedding their past, however, is a different matter. Moreover, it is clear from many reports that a noticeable number of servicemen are gung-ho about their gang affiliations, as a photo accompanying this Blaze piece on the matter seems to show.
Among these reports confirming the FBI assessment is an anecdotal one delivered by none other than radio-talk-show host Michael Savage. On a recent broadcast, Dr. Savage discussed the opportunity he had to visit a U.S. naval vessel. He mentioned that during his tour, a young sailor fan of his (who was kept anonymous for obvious reasons) pulled him aside and apprised him of some very damning goings-on aboard the ship. And among the information related was this statement paraphrased, Michael, at night this deck is overrun by gangs; its just like the Crips and the Bloods on the street. (See picture above.)
Gang infiltration into the armed services, as the FBI assessment warned, constitutes a significant criminal threat to the U.S. military. Note that a gang members primary allegiance will always lie with his gang not the nation. Moreover, while anything that undermines the U.S. military quite naturally poses a threat to the wider society, analysts note that there is a more direct danger as well: The armed services are now unwittingly providing military training to tomorrows gang enforcers. For when these gang members leave the service, their skills go with them and too often they are taken to the street.
Photo: Los Angeles, California gangs, Blood & Crips, April 14, 1993: AP Images