At times, the military has struggled with how to deal with social media, banning access to it from government computers at one point, then specifically allowing access to Facebook at another. In the same vein, some servicemembers have had adverse action over their activities on the internet, including a Marine discharged over comments about President Obama and a Twitter ‘oops’ by another Marine — while the military simultaneously encourages its troops to “engage” in social media for family, health, morale, and even public relations reasons.
A recent statement by the Defense Privacy and Civil Liberties Office attempted to lend more thought to the sometimes confusing area, noting that servicemembers are free to express themselves, within some fairly liberal limits: Read more…
In an era of increased sensitivity toward the US military and politics (from Facebook to reprimand to discharge), it was unusual to read a report in which US Air Force Academy cadets participated in a debate on the presidential candidates, calling for the re-election of their Commander-in-Chief:
The event, held Oct. 29, in the heat of the run-up to the presidential Read more…
If you’re a member of the US military and you’ve ever Facebook “Liked” President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney, you’d better pay attention, because the Department of Defense just issued guidance that restricts that very thing.
Contrary to the conclusions of a prior article, the US DoD has just recently published official guidance on “political activities” in association with social media, and they’re fairly explicit. The undated but very recently released “2012 Public Affairs Guidance for Political Campaigns and Elections” says:
- You can express yourself on issues and candidates:
An [active duty] Service member may generally express his or her own personal views on public issues or political candidates via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or personal Blogs, much the same as they would be permitted to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper.
- But, if you are “reasonably identifiable” as a member of the military, Read more…
Categories: Military Regulations army, ashton carter, blog, Constitution, disclaimer, dod, elections, facebook, Government, Military, mitt romney, Obama, partisan, politics, public affairs guidance, Religion, secretary of defense, twitter
Update: Based on new information, some conclusions in this article have been updated here.
Every now and then members of the military post official articles that might best be understood as “public service announcements” for their fellow troops. They often cover high interest issues (like politics, social media, and religion, see below) or regulations that are the topic du jour. Unfortunately, because these articles carry no weight (unless they are written by a senior Air Force leader issuing official guidance), they can often add confusion to the issue they mean to clarify — especially if they’re wrong.
For example, a Public Affairs troop recently wrote “Rock the vote, but beware of guidelines,” which was a combination of encouraging voting while cautioning on the restrictions on political activity: Read more…
The US Marines have removed a “public service announcement” they had published that used the case of former Marine Sgt Gary Stein as an example of what not to do in an election year.
Mike Barton, deputy director of public affairs at Cherry Point, said featuring Stein’s story in its PSA was meant to serve as a cautionary tale Read more…
Categories: Fighter Pilot cherry point, Constitution, discharge, facebook, gary stein, Government, marines, mike barton, Military, other than honorable, politics
Some may have assumed that with a Democratic President (and the stereotype that the US military leans Republican/conservative), most of those testing the limits of permissible political activities or commentary would be “right wing” or conservatives.
They would be wrong.
The blog for the Rock Beyond Belief event organized by Justin Griffith at Fort Bragg recently posted an article about North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which would modify the NC State Constitution to say the only domestic legal union in the state is Read more…
Categories: Military Regulations amendment 1, army, Constitution, dadt, dodd 1344.10, facebook, fort bragg, franklin graham, gary stein, homosexual, justin griffith, Military, north carolina, Obama, political activities, priscilla troop, rock beyond belief, rock the fort
US Marine Sgt Gary Stein, who will be discharged for his Facebook comments about the President, has expressed regret. While maintaining he’s being used as an example and treated unfairly, he also says he wished he’d phrased things differently: Read more…
US Marine Sgt. Gary Stein will reportedly be administratively separated with an “Other than Honorable” discharge as a result of his “political” Facebook activities:
The Commanding General for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego…has approved the board’s recommendation that Sgt. Stein be separated from the Marine Corps with an “other than honorable” discharge.
The Sgt’s case is so high profile the Marines took the unusual step of Read more…
Categories: Military Regulations Constitution, discharge, facebook, gary stein, Goldman v Weinberger, Government, marines, Military, other than honorable, rigdon v perry, scotus, supreme court
The US Marine’s top lawyer has recommended the Department of Defense update its policies on political activities to reflect social media.
[Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary's] letter stated that Marine Corps staff was being instructed to contact the Defense Department to recommend an update to “provide service members with additional guidance on how to use social media in a responsible manner.”
The Marine Times notes the likely reason for the call for policy change: Read more…
Categories: Fighter Pilot duncan hunter, eugene fidell, facebook, gary stein, james baehr, john torresala, marines, Military, Obama, social media, vaughn ary, yale
Joined by the ACLU, US Marine Sgt Gary Stein sued the US military yesterday seeking an injunction that would prevent or delay the Marines’ effort to discharge him. Judge Marilyn Huff denied the injunction he requested, saying he did not show he would suffer irreparable harm from the separation board, which leaves open the possibility he can gain an injunction should the board recommend discharge.
His administrative discharge hearing is scheduled for today, though an actual decision by the responsible authority would likely occur later.
The lawsuit can be viewed here. Within it, Stein makes interesting allegations, Read more…
US Rep Duncan Hunter, R-CA, has called on Col Christopher Dowling to end the administrative discharge proceedings against Marine Sgt Gary Stein. Dowling had recommended Stein be administratively separated after he allegedly violated the UCMJ in his activities on Facebook.
Hunter, a Marine reservist and combat veteran, sent a letter to Col. Christopher Dowling on Tuesday urging the Corps to withdraw the discharge proceedings against Stein.
The board was supposed to meet last Saturday but was rescheduled to later this week.
Categories: Fighter Pilot blog, christopher dowling, dodd 1344.10, duncan hunter, facebook, gary stein, marines, Military, politics, social media, ucmj
US Army SPC Jesse Thorsen (previously incorrectly identified as a Corporal) has been given a Letter of Reprimand for appearing at a Ron Paul rally in uniform and giving a glowing endorsement.
The Army determined that Jesse D. Thorsen violated Read more…
Categories: Fighter Pilot army, dodd 1344.10, facebook, gary stein, Government, jesse thorsen, marines, Military, political activities, politics, ron paul, uniform
US Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), himself a Reserve Marine, has come to the defense of SGT Gary Stein, a Marine who faces an administrative discharge for comments he posted online.
Sgt Stein reportedly posted comments saying he would not obey the orders of the President, and he later clarified his statement to say he would not obey unlawful orders from the President.
This Saturday Stein faces a panel that will determine if he should be administratively separated from the Marines: Read more…
Categories: Fighter Pilot blog, daniel yoo, dodd 1344.10, duncan hunter, facebook, gary stein, marines, Military, politics, social media, ucmj
Gary Stein has a “Tea Party” Facebook site. He’s also a US Marine. In 2010 it attracted the attention of the military, who wanted to make sure he knew the rules. He reviewed and acknowledged them, and the Facebook page continued, with the military’s awareness.
Marine Sgt. Gary Stein first started a Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots to encourage service members to exercise their free speech rights. Then he declared that he wouldn’t follow orders from the commander in chief, President Barack Obama.
While Stein softened his statement to say he wouldn’t follow “unlawful orders,” military observers say he may have gone too far.
“Military observers” is an awkward way of trying Read more…
Categories: Government and Religion ACLU, afi 51-902, army, carroll lefon, censor, dodd 1344.10, donald hoffman, facebook, free speech, gary stein, marines, Military, neptunus lex, Obama, Pentagon, social media, tea party
Admiral James G. Stavridis is the commander of US Navy European Command and is also Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. He recently spoke to students at the National Defense University, encouraging them to “read, think, write” – even blog:
Share your ideas in print — a scholarly journal, a military magazine, a literary journal, or even a blog post…Is there “career risk” Read more…