The U.S. Army is investigating after two soldiers appeared appeared during the Democratic National Convention’s livestream.
The two service members appeared on video behind the official Democratic nominating delegation from American Samoa as the party held a roll call vote to officially nominate former Vice President Joe Biden for president.
But the use of soldiers in a political convention was quickly criticized as a potential violation of military regulations, and now the Army is now looking into the matter.
The DNC described the appearance of military personnel during the virtual convention as an “oversight.”
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
“The composition of that shot was an oversight,” a DNC official told CNN.
“Each state was asked to highlight issues and values that matter most and the American Samoa delegation wanted to highlight their commitment to military service when they filmed their segment,” the official added.
Still, the matter will be taken up by the military.
A Department of Defense spokesperson told CNN that “all members of the Armed Forces, including active duty members, members of the reserve component not on active duty, and retired members, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign or election events.”
Additionally, the Army told the outlet it is “investigating two soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command who appeared in uniform during the Democratic National Convention.”
The Army’s statement added that “wearing a uniform to a partisan political event like this is prohibited. 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 Army said.
On Wednesday, the Army posted a reminder to Twitter about which political activities active duty soldiers are and are not allowed to participate in:
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) August 19, 2020
According to an official 2019 statement from the Department of Defense, American service members are encouraged to engage politically — particularly in the act of voting.
They are, however, expressly prohibited by Directive 1344.10 from directly associating the U.S. armed forces with their own personal political activity.
“As a matter of long-standing policy, military service members and federal employees acting in their official capacity may not engage in activities that associate the DOD with any partisan political campaign or elections, candidate, cause or issue,” the Defense Department wrote.
“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,” the department added.
“In addition, all military members, including National Guard and Reserve forces, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events.”
As Politico reported, the Democratic Party’s 2020 platform pledges to “end the Trump administration’s politicization of the armed forces.”
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