The Pentagon this week told all military personnel and Department of Defense employees to avoid any actions that could be perceived as an endorsement of a political candidate or group.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a memo to personnel and employees that each person “must be unwavering in our personal commitment to exemplary ethics and living by core values grounded in duty and honor.”
Workers can vote and undertake other political actions but should stay apolitical while on the job, Esper said in the memo, which was dated Feb. 5 and released on Feb. 7.
All Department of Defense personnel should be “steadfast in our commitment to defend the Constitution and our nations democratic principles,” Esper wrote (pdf).
“As citizens, we exercise our right to vote and participate in government. However, as public servants who have taken an oath to defend these principles, we uphold DoDs longstanding tradition of remaining apolitical as we carry out our official responsibilities.”
Any actions that imply endorsements from Department of Defense personnel could undermine the “hard-earned trust and confidence of the American people,” Esper wrote.
Leaders in the department reported to Esper about the annual ethics training last year and personnel who are required to complete the training must do so by Nov. 30 of this year.
“Additionally, military and civilian leaders should regularly discuss ethics and values with their teams in the normal course of leading and decision-making,” Esper wrote.
The secretary wrote a similar memo in August 2019, reminding Department of Defense personnel to focus on being ethical. His predecessor Patrick Shanahan sent out memos a few months earlier to Pentagon employees, writing, “Our policy and tradition also clearly limit active duty members from engaging in partisan political activities or actions that could appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or cause.”
“What I wanted to do is … remind everyone that were not going to politicize the military,” Shanahan told reporters about the memos.
Troops have become embroiled in controversy for allegedly political actions during this election cycle. In one case, a major with the South Carolina Army National Guard attended a rally for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden last year while wearing her uniform.
The woman, Maj. Ginger Tate, told Biden she was praying he was elected president.
“It was very emotional, Im sure it was heartfelt by the major, but it was also incredibly wrong and a violation of the U.S. miRead More – Source