Tuberville to SecDef: ‘We cannot allow our military to be politicized’ — ‘Purge the department of extremism’
U.S. Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on Monday sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasizing their belief that recent trainings conducted by branches of the United States military were politically slanted and inappropriate for the non-partisan institution.
The three senators sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Pentagon.
In the letter, they note that while Austin’s directive to identify and remove “extremism” from the military is appropriate, the implementation of resulting stand down trainings fell well short of the military’s standards.
“Your directive to purge the department of extremism follows in the long tradition of the United States military protecting the rights and liberties of all Americans,” Tuberville and his two colleagues wrote. “Like you, we want to see good order and discipline in the ranks as well as for our military to remain the non-partisan institution that Americans trust more than any other.”
However, the Republican senators lamented that Austin’s “tempered, thoughtful approach lost its way in translation to the services.”
“An examination of the stand-down training materials reveals a disappointing partisan slant and poorly-defined First Amendment rights for military members,” they advised.
“Inherent among the advantages of our nation’s diverse population is diversity of thought,” the trio outlined. “Yet some of the training materials imply only certain political thoughts are welcome. For example, the Navy’s training deck includes as an example of ‘permissible political activity’ membership in the Young Democrats of America. No examples of groups affiliated with other political parties are included. Additionally, a scenario on religious beliefs pertaining to marriage, abortion, and LGBTQ matters states that conservative views on these issues are not considered ‘mainstream.’ Finally, the Navy’s slides suggest that workplace discussions of Black Lives Matter are not ‘politically partisan in nature.'”
Tuberville, Wicker and Cramer pointed to the irony of how the training — intended to ward service members away from espousing “purely personal opinions” — “was clearly biased in and of itself.”
“Since your announcement of a stand down, multiple senior military leaders have publicly criticized individual members of the press using official DOD platforms and social media,” they wrote to Austin. “We hope you agree how inappropriate and ill-advised it is to use the National Guard to march on an elected representative’s office. From official social media accounts, in uniform, on defense.gov, and even from the Pentagon podium, the DOD loudly and with one voice took up a partisan viewpoint and went so far as to equate a U.S. citizen with China’s People Liberation Army.”
They concluded by asking Austin by the end of the month “provide a report on what steps your office has taken to reprimand those officers, enlisted, and other DOD personnel who have inappropriately engaged in partisan behavior while representing our military within the last year.”
“Include what steps your office will take to ensure such behavior ceases under your watch,” the letter specified. “In your response, we ask that you personally review the stand-down training material disseminated by the services and other subordinate headquarters in order to ensure that these materials comply with the guidance issued by your office.”
“We cannot allow our military to be politicized,” the senators stressed.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn