Punishment Announced After Army Reserve Soldiers Appeared at Democratic Convention


The supervisor of the two Army Reserve Soldiers who appeared in uniform at the Democratic National Convention in August will be punished instead of the unidentified soldiers.

“The investigation found their supervisor violated a Department of Defense directive and an Army regulation that governs soldier political activities,” Lt. Col. Simon Flake, chief of media relations for Army Reserve Strategic Communications, said in a statement to the Military Times.

“The supervisor at fault will receive the appropriate level of disciplinary action for violating the governing standards.”

Two uniformed soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command based in Hawaii appeared during the DNC as American Samoa Democratic Party leaders Aliitama Sotoa and Patti Matila voiced their support for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

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Army officials began an investigation into the incident after it drew immediate attention for allegedly violating Defense Department rules.

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.

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“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 Department of Defense website reads.

“In addition, all military members, including National Guard and Reserve forces, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events.”

The rules are in place to keep the military neutral in the democratic process, according to the Military Times.

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Army officials said Thursday that the two soldiers were not at fault for the mistake.

“The investigation determined the two soldiers who appeared on television were not at fault,” Flake told The Hill.

He added to the Military Times that Army Reserve leaders “continue to provide all soldiers and civilian employees training and the latest information on DOD Directives and Army Policies pertaining to political activities.”

Flake did not expand on how the supervisor will be disciplined.

Democratic Party officials said the appearance of the soldiers was designed to “celebrate American Samoa’s legacy of military service” but conceded that the inclusion of troops in uniform was “an oversight.”

Other people pointed to a similar segment during the Republican National Convention where two uniformed Marines were shown while on duty at the White House and opened a door for President Donald Trump.

Officials ruled that these service members were “at their assigned place of duty” and were not violating the rules.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith