THE United States military is once again on the defensive, responding to charges of racism and sexual harassment.
The Army is launching a service-wide investigation of troop connections with extremist and racist groups after the killing of a black couple last week in North Carolina, allegedly by two white soldiers.
Army Secretary Togo West says he wants a fresh examination of ''the climate throughout the Army among America's soldiers'' with regard to extremism, including white supremacist views.
A task force headed by Maj. Gen. Larry Jordan, the Army's deputy inspector general, is to report its findings and recommendations by March 1, 1996.
Army rules prohibit soldiers from active involvement, but not membership, in extremist groups, including those espousing white supremacist views or advocating violence.
Meanwhile, a senior Navy officer in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, has been reassigned during an investigation into charges of sexual harassment, adultery, and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Capt. Fred Dew, a 25-year veteran, had been commander of the Navy's fourth largest public- works center, overseeing a 1,600-member civilian work force and a $400 million annual budget.