Bloomberg News

Joint Staff Chairman Orders Inquiry Into Islam Course

April 25, 2012

The top U.S. military officer has ordered an inquiry into whether a training course on Islam taught since 2008 contains “inflammatory” and objectionable statements, according to a spokesman.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ordered the inquiry yesterday after a former student complained in March, spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby said. The course taught to military officers is entitled, “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism.”

“Our concern is that there are some unprofessional things being taught to students in a professional military educational curriculum,” Kirby told reporters today at the Pentagon. The inquiry “will determine how the material got into the course and what we need to do to move it forward.”

The class has been suspended, he said.

The eight-week, 20-student course was among the electives officers could choose from a curriculum on conducting operations with their fellow services taught at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, Kirby said.

“Inflammatory ideas” were in some of the course materials, Kirby said, recounting a classroom PowerPoint presentation. “One of them -- the ‘United States is at war with Islam’ -- was presented as an assertion.”

“That’s not at all what we believe to be the case,” he said. “We are at war with terrorism, specifically al-Qaeda, who has a warped view of the Islamic faith. We don’t consider us at war with Islam.”

At least one student found material presented in the class “objectionable, and we would agree,” Kirby said.

“What we don’t know is when this objectionable material got into the course material,” said Kirby. “How long have some of these notions been taught?”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at

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