The highest-ranking U.S. military officer has written an unusual open letter to all those in uniform, warning them to stay out of politics as the United States approaches a presidential election....As you know, I like to dabble in politics quite a bit here.
However, I consider what I do, an Active Duty Officer blogg'n on my own dime and my own time under a nom de blog, as one step below the bumper-stickers I see on cars. ADM Mullen's set me back a bit until I read the rest of the quote.
"I am not suggesting that military professionals abandon all personal opinions about modern social or political issues," Mullen wrote. "What I am suggesting - indeed, what the nation expects - is that military personnel will, in the execution of the mission assigned to them, put aside their partisan leanings. Political opinions have no place in cockpit or camp or conference room."Restating the standing position is actually a good idea - as is his bit of advice,
Military personnel are obligated to give their unvarnished, even critical, advice to their civilian leaders, he told the class.The full essay is in the upcoming edition of the Joint Force Quarterly, available online here.
"If it's followed, great," Mullen said. "If it's not, we only have two choices: obey the orders we have been given, carrying them out with the professionalism and loyalty they deserve, or vote with our feet."
"That's it," he added. "We don't get to debate those orders after the fact. We don't get to say, 'Well, it's not how I would have done it,' or, 'If they had only listened to me.' Too late at that point - and too cowardly."
As I read it, all is safe here - I'll keep plugg'n along. As I thought though, this is more directed, methinks, at the Revolting Generals.
In particular, members of the Joint Chiefs have expressed worries this election year about the influence of retired officers who advise political campaigns, some of whom have publicly called for a change in policy or others who serve as television commentators.Just as a note - you won't find me starting or rolling with a political discussion in uniform or on the job. Never have. As a matter of fact, I can be quite demure on the subject - as it should be.
Among the most outspoken were those who joined the so-called generals' revolt in 2006 demanding the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, as well as former officers who have written books attacking the Bush administration's planning for and execution of the war in Iraq.
While retired officers have full rights to political activism, their colleagues still in uniform fear its effect on those trying to carry out the mission, especially more junior officers and enlisted personnel. Active-duty military personnel are prohibited from taking part in partisan politics.