At the Washington Post, Phillip Carter writes, Army Shows Its Colors:
The Army's public affairs office publishes a daily roundup of Army-related news called "Stand To" -- named for the set of procedures combat units do just prior to dawn, when they go to full alert for a possible enemy attack. The daily wrapup contains links to mainstream media articles, Army press releases, foreign media stories and blogs. It's similar to the Defense Department's Early Bird -- but much briefer, and obviously more focused on the Army.
Tuesday's edition contained an entry under "WHAT'S BEING SAID IN BLOGS" that struck me as unusual -- both for its headline and its patent political bias:
Obama: World peace thru surrender (KDIHH)
The link goes to a milblog called "Knee Deep in the Hooah." The author is a former Army officer whose son is serving in Iraq now. After citing a column on some curious Pentagon planning for an Obama administration, he goes on to write:
Roger that Redleg six, throwing away all ammo now and preparing to surrender ... Redleg five, out.Seriously? Have any of these people actually read the Obama defense policy papers or speeches-- or are they simply going on what they hear on Fox News and the Limbaugh network?
After all, what better time to surrender than when we are winning? The article cited above also includes a Youtube link so that you can see the end for yourself in the end makers own words. Sure. This is all old news for those of us who care. But it still ticks me off anyway. So I thought to myself,"Why not share the wealth?" Now I can be ticked off in good company. Enjoy.
And more to the point, why is the Army's official in-house public affairs shop linking to this kind of stuff? Just a few weeks ago, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told all hands to stay out of politics: "As the nation prepares to elect a new president, we would all do well to remember the promises we made: to obey civilian authority, to support and defend the Constitution and to do our duty at all times.... Keeping our politics private is a good first step." He added: "The only things we should be wearing on our sleeves are our military insignia."
Unfortunately, the message didn't get to through to the Army.
Let's be clear: It is okay for the services to have a message. Both the Early Bird and Stand To speak for the Pentagon and the Army as institutions, and that's okay. They generally support the troops, the military, the chain of command, and the current endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing wrong with that.
And I have no objections to what Mr. Hooah wrote, besides the fact that I think it's factually wrong. He has his opinion; I have mine.
But the Stand To page is different -- and Tuesday's edition crosses the line. This isn't some citizen's blog or website. It's the in-house public affairs digest of the United States Army. It should not be amplifying partisan political attacks, nor should it be airing them at all. This appears like yet another example of the unusually cozy relationship which has developed over the last generation or so between the military and the right wing of American politics -- an unhealthy development, to say the least.
Last time I checked, soldiers and civilian officials didn't swear an oath to either political party or to their current president. Rather, they swear their fidelity to the Constitution, and the ideals it embodies, including the subordination of the military to civil authority. Adm. Mullen is right: As we enter a contentious election year, where issues of national security are likely to dominate the debate, the military needs to stay on the sidelines.