The U.S. Army is investigating an incident in which two reservists appeared in uniform with two Democratic delegates from American Samoa during Tuesday’s roll call vote at the Democratic National Convention.
When American Samoa Democratic party leaders Patti Matila and Aliitama Sotoa appeared on a beach to cast their delegation’s votes for nominee Joe Biden, some questioned the propriety of two unidentified masked soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command appearing silently behind them. The Department of Defense (DoD) does not allow members of the military to appear in uniform during partisan events, such as a political convention.
However, per DoD rules, all military members are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events. pic.twitter.com/q6SFOCvNH9
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 19, 2020
According to The Military Times, officials are looking into the incident. “Wearing a uniform to a partisan political event like this is prohibited,” they said in a statement. “The Army follows the Department of Defense’s longstanding and well-defined policy regarding political campaigns and elections to avoid the perception of DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of any political candidate, campaign or cause.”
“Examples of prohibited political activities include campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions, marching in a partisan parade and wearing the uniform to a partisan event,” the officials added.
The DoD reiterates such a policy on its website, which says in part:
Under DOD Directive 1344.10, members of the armed forces who are on active duty are permitted to express their personal opinions on political candidates, make a monetary contribution to a campaign, sign a petition to place a candidate’s name on the ballot, and attend a political event as a spectator. Members on active duty may not participate in partisan activities such as soliciting or engaging in partisan fundraiser activities, serving as the sponsor of a partisan club, or speaking before a partisan gathering. In addition, all military members, including National Guard and Reserve forces, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley admitted having made a “mistake” in June after he took flak for having accompanied President Donald Trump in his walk from the White House to St. John’s Church through Lafayette Square.
“As many of you saw, the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”
“We who wear the cloth of our nation come from the people of our nation, and we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our republic,” he added.
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