Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley assured the public that the U.S. military would not weigh in on the outcome of the November 3rd presidential election or otherwise involve itself in the election process.
Responding to questions about the election raised by Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Milley said over the weekend that the military intends to maintain its apolitical status and will not resolve a disputed election result.
Milley said, “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. Military.”
Milley’s response comes after concerns have been raised about the military’s potential involvement in the election process or in enforcing an outcome.
In a June interview with The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he believes President Donald Trump will try to steal the election, but if Trump lost the election and refused to leave office, the military would escort him from the White House “with great dispatch.”
Slotkin and Sherrill recently raised questions about whether elected officials could use the military for partisan political gain after Trump’s June called for states to activate their National Guard troops in response to nationwide rioting following the death of George Floyd. Trump also suggested the use of active military troops if state governments did not stop the rioting.
Milley said, “I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military.”
Various states have called on National Guard troops to assist state and local law enforcement efforts in stopping rioting in recent months, but active military troops have not been used to respond to civil unrest. Using such troops would require invoking the Insurrection Act; a move Defense Secretary Mark Esper rejected and said should only be used as a last resort.
Asked by the if the two congresswomen if the military might be called upon to assist at polling places, Milley also said “State and Federal governments have qualified individuals who oversee” elections.
“I do not see the U.S. Military as part of this process,” he added.
Concerns about the U.S. military’s apolitical status have been raised with several recent political demonstrations of service members in uniform.
In July, a uniformed sailor was captured in a viral video, yelling “Fuck Trump” at a group of demonstrators standing on a sidewalk.
During the Democratic National Convention, two uniformed soldiers stood beside Democratic Party delegates as they did a virtual roll call vote to endorse Biden for president.
In February, Esper released an election-year reminder memo for service members to avoid political activity while in uniform.