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
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
An official Air Force article cautioned military servicemembers from reading too much into the “one time exception to DOD policy” that let uniformed troops arch in a homosexual parade:
Recently, media interest has focused on the one-time exception to Department of Defense policy which allowed service members to march in a pride parade in uniform.
All military members must keep in mind that 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
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.
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
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
According to articles on the event, the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, was unique this year:
In a town where just about everything is scripted, the sight of the President, Vice-President and members of Congress singing “Amazing Grace,” during the 60th Annual National Prayer breakfast was one of several off script moments that was almost refreshing today.
According to another source, the talk of the town was the speech delivered at the breakfast — but not President Obama’s speech: Read more