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Army soldiers who appeared in DNC video won’t be disciplined, but supervisor will

Two people in U.S. Army uniforms stand beside delegates casting votes for Joe Biden during the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 18, 2020. (YouTube, Screenshot)
October 09, 2020

Two uniformed U.S. Army Reserve soldiers who stood alongside American Samoa’s Democratic Party leaders as they endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, will not be disciplined for participating in the political activity while in uniform.

“The 9th Mission Support Command (MSC) completed an investigation of the facts and circumstances related to two 9th MSC [Mission Support Command] Soldiers appearing in uniform during the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The investigation determined the two Soldiers who appeared on television were not at fault,” Army Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Simon Flake, said in a statement to American Military News on Friday.

“The investigation found their supervisor violated a Department of Defense Directive and an Army Regulation that governs Soldier political activities. The supervisor at fault will receive the appropriate level of disciplinary action for violating the governing standards,” Flake added.

The two soldiers who remain unidentified wore masks as they stood behind American Samoa Democratic party leaders Aliitama Sotoa and Patti Matila as they announced their support for Biden during the nationally televised Democratic convention in August.

The Pentagon policy on military endorsements states, “Members on active duty may not participate in partisan activities such as soliciting or engaging in partisan fundraiser activities, serving as the sponsor of a partisan club, or speaking before a partisan gathering. In addition, all military members, including National Guard and Reserve forces, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events.”

In a statement to ABC following the incident, a DNC official said the party representatives of each state were asked to “highlight issues and values that matter most and the American Samoa delegation wanted to highlight their commitment to military service when they filmed their segment.” The official added, “The composition of that shot was an oversight.”

The supervisor for the two soldiers in the DNC video was not identified, and Flake did not specify what discipline the supervisor would face for the controversial appearance of the two soldiers in the DNC video.

Flake said Reserve leaders “continue to provide all soldiers and civilian employees training and the latest information on DOD Directives and Army Policies pertaining to political activities.”

In February, Defense Secretary Mark Esper released an election-year reminder memo for service members to avoid political activity while in uniform.

A U.S. Navy sailor in uniform made news for a July incident after she got out of her car to yell at a pro-Trump crowd. The sailor, identified as Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Launch/Recovery) 2nd Class Sarah Dudrey, yelled “Fuck Trump” at people in the crowd. After the video of Dudrey’s comments went viral, Navy spokeswoman Melinda Larson said they were investigating the incident and said Dudrey’s commanding officer “will make a determination on what actions are warranted.”