The U.S. Army announced Wednesday that it has launched an investigation into two soldiers who stood in uniform for a video that aired during the Democratic National Convention, saying the act violated Department of Defense rules that bar personnel from giving the impression that the military is offering a political endorsement.
What are the details?
The unnamed military personnel were seen standing behind the delegates representing American Samoa during roll call on the second night of virtual convention on Tuesday, a move the immediately sparked questions on social media about whether their appearance broke any rules.
@ifollowonlyos Uniformed service members aren't supposed to take part in partisan political activities— Dave Brown (@Dave Brown)1597801985.0
The next day, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz Cruz issued a statement saying, "The Army is investigating two soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command who appeared in uniform during the Democratic National Convention on Aug.18," while noting 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," he continued. ""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."
When reached by The Hill for comment regarding the soldiers' appearance on the broadcast, a DNC official said "the composition of that shot was an oversight."
The official explained, "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 outlet pointed out that the Democratic Party's 2020 platform states that the party "will never use active duty soldiers as political props, and we will never send military forces to suppress Americans exercising their constitutional rights."
Military-focused publication Task and Purpose reported:
Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a memo on Feb. 5 reminding service members to remain apolitical during this election cycle, but that is very difficult in a world where anyone with a phone can post pictures or video of troops making partisan statements.
To wit: The Navy launched an investigation after a petty officer was shown in a viral video yelling "F—k Trump" at protesters while she was in uniform.
Meanwhile, U.S. service members have brought red "Make America Great Again" campaign hats at events with Trump. The Navy separately punished sailors for attending a speech by the president while wearing "Make Aircrew Great Again" patches.
And last year, a major in the South Carolina Army National Guard was shown in a video telling Biden at a campaign event that she was praying he would be elected president.