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Joint military chiefs condemn Capitol storming in military-wide letter, call on troops to ‘obey lawful orders’

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley. (DoD photo by Marvin Lynchard)
January 13, 2021

On Tuesday, the eight members of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff for the U.S. military issued an internal memo to all military members, condemning the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. last week. The letter called on troops to obey lawful orders from the military’s civilian leadership and further affirmed President-elect Joe Biden will become the next Commander in Chief

The full memo from the Joint Chiefs, which was leaked online, reads:

The American people have trusted the Armed Forces of the United States to protect them and our constitution for almost 250 years. As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The violent riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process. We mourn the loss of the two Capitol policemen and others connected to these unprecedented events.

We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.

As Service Members, we must embody the values and ideals of the Nation. We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law.

On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief.

To our men and women deployed and at home, safeguarding our country—stay ready, keep your eyes on the horizon, and remain focused on the mission. We honor your continued service and defense of every American.

The memo was signed by Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John E. Hyten, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. Raymond and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson.

The internal memo comes after demonstrators entered the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, during a “Stop the Steal” rally contesting the 2020 U.S. election results. The demonstrators who entered the Capitol clashed with police and forced the building to lockdown. Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over a joint session of Congress to count the electoral college votes for the president, was also forced to evacuate.

One Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick died Thursday after sustaining injuries during the incident at the Capitol.

Several U.S. military veterans were also among the demonstrators last week.

14-year U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbit, who was among the demonstrators inside the building, was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer.

The memo also comes as around 6,200 National Guard troops from various states have already been activated to Washington D.C. and up to 15,000 National Guard troops may be tasked with missions to assist with security and logistics for Biden’s inauguration.