The Army is investigating a rifle that was possibly stolen from D.C. National Guard during a training event in Virginia last month, Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesperson Chris Grey confirmed Tuesday, according to Politico.
Two people familiar with the probe said the M4 rifle and a scope disappeared around March 11 while a quick reaction force that was created to protect the U.S. Capitol was training at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command alerted D.C. National Guard of its examination Tuesday. Statements were collected on Thursday from those who were at the Fort A.P. Hill range at the time that the firearm went missing, one person familiar with the situation said. National Guard members who provided states filled out dozens of pages of questions on their whereabouts.
Guard members told Politico that an unaccounted-for rifle is a serious security risk, particularly amid the branch’s current mission securing the Capitol building.
National Guard leaders started interviewing service members stationed at the Capitol after the firearm was determined to have gone missing, but it was not resolved, prompting the more in-depth investigation from the Criminal Investigation Command.
The news of the missing rifle comes as the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin continues to express concerns of extremism in the ranks.
In February, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called on troops throughout the U.S. military to report extremism they see in the ranks and share any ideas they have to “stamp out” the issue.
“We need your help,” Austin said in a video statement. “I’m talking, of course, about extremism and extremist ideology. Views and conduct that run counter to everything that we believe in, and which can actually tear at the fabric of who we are as an institution.”
Also in February, Austin ordered a 60-day stand-down to address extremism among service members, a decision that was made after active duty and retired troops were found among those who breached the Capitol on January 6.
“I’ve seen this before, I’ve lived through it as a soldier and as a commander,” Austin said of extremism in the ranks. “It’s not new to our country and sadly it’s not new to our military. What is new is the speed and the pervasiveness with which extremist ideology can spread today, thanks to social media and the aggressive, organized and emboldened attitude many of these hate groups and their sympathizers are now applying to their recruitment and to their operations.”