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Pentagon Warns Troops Against Uniform at Political Events After DNC Video

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/19/2020 David Brennan
Minjee Lee et al. posing for the camera: In this screenshot from the DNCC's livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Chairman of the American Samoa Democratic Party Alitama Sotao addresses the virtual convention on August 18, 2020. © Handout/DNCC via Getty Images/Getty In this screenshot from the DNCC's livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Chairman of the American Samoa Democratic Party Alitama Sotao addresses the virtual convention on August 18, 2020.

Questions were being asked of the Pentagon and Democratic National Committee on Tuesday after two uniformed soldiers flanked American Samoa party delegates casting their vote for Joe Biden to receive the presidential nomination.

The two masked service members stood with their name tags visible and their patches identifying them as members of the U.S. Army. Uniformed service members are not supposed to participate in political events, and are instructed to remain strictly apolitical per the Department of Defense Directive 1344.10.

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Asked to comment on the incident, a Pentagon spokesperson told Newsweek: "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."

The spokesperson referred Newsweek to the U.S. Army for additional information. The Army did not reply to a request for comment in time for publication.


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It is not clear which Army unit the two junior enlisted soldiers belong to. American Samoa has a small military footprint, with no National Guard and no active duty Army deployment. The islands are home to a small Army Reserve Center that oversees several hundred reservists there.

Members of the military are allowed to publicly support political candidates and attend rallies, but must do so in their private time and never in uniform.

An unnamed defense official told ABC News that the appearance of the two soldiers will raise questions as to how they ended up in the DNC feed, given the political restrictions covering all active and reserve troops. Newsweek has contacted the DNC to request comment on who made the decision to have the troops in shot.

Democrats have long criticized President Donald Trump and the GOP of using the military as a political prop to win votes. But the American Samoa incident could raise concerns that the DNC is seeking to do the same—allegations Biden could do without as he tries to unseat the incumbent.

Trump has sought to cast himself as an ally of the military, regularly boasting about his push to increase America's mammoth military budget and framing his pardons for convicted and suspected war criminals as pro-military decisions.

Biden, meanwhile, plans to cut the U.S. military budget, which at $738 billion is larger than the next 10 highest spending nations combined.

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