Army General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has told Members of Congress that the military will not play a part in the upcoming presidential elections. These comments were made after the United States government previously hinted at the possibility of posting security forces at polling stations and voting centers across the country in November.
President Donald Trump is not the only candidate who has suggested that the U.S. military would become involved in the elections. Former Vice President Joe Biden also suggested that soldiers could be ordered to escort Trump out of the White House should he refuse to step down. The Biden comments were made in relation to what Trump has previously mentioned about the outcome of the elections, which is that he is ready to vigorously challenge the outcome if he is not reelected.Read More »
As Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Milley is the highest-ranking commanding officer in the U.S. military. He clarified that the history of the Armed Forces is based on service to the country and not on political influence. Although military members are expected to take orders from the Commander in Chief, a role currently held by Trump, they are primarily engaged in protecting the U.S. and upholding the Constitution. The men and women of the U.S. military should not have to participate in any dispute that arises from an election, and this would include not having to escort Trump out or be deployed to polling stations.
General Milley should not have to remind Members of Congress that the military makes it a point of stay out of elections; active duty members are known to participate in the democratic process by casting their votes or going through the absentee ballot method if they are deployed away from their states of residency, but this is the extent of their involvement.
Trump Cannot Abuse His Commander in Chief Position
It should be noted that Trump has already tried to use the Armed Forces for purposes that clash against the oath of enlistment or the oath of office. The first time this happened was when he deployed active duty troops to the southern border with Mexico; he faced criticism and court challenges over this move until the military deployments quietly came to an end. The second time was a couple of months ago when the White House was surrounded by protesters who called for an end to racial injustice and police brutality.
General Milley was next to President Trump when he walked out of the White House, where he had been hiding in a security bunker, and posed in front of a church with the Holy Bible in hand to promise that he would deploy military units against protesters across the U.S. The General would later apologize for being present and wearing the Army Combat Uniform fatigues. The prospect of active duty soldiers engaging American protesters in urban warfare is something that everyone agrees should never happen, and General Milley reminded the public about it.
Trump was not happy when the Joint Chiefs published memos to American troops to assure them that they would not be deployed to fight their own people. State governors can call up Army and Air National Guard units in cases of natural disasters, riots, and severe civil unrest, but never to make a political stand such as quelling protests that support civil rights.
Political analyst following the current election campaign believe that President has lost most of the military vote he had enjoyed in 2016, and this has a lot to do with the words of General Milley and the aforementioned memos issued by the Joint Chiefs. In the case of the U.S. Marine Corps, the resignation of General James Mattis, who stepped down as Secretary of Defense over differences with Trump, has also diminished the prospect of military voters casting their ballots for reelection.
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