General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the top uniformed officer in the U.S. military has remained silent on the appearance of uniformed U.S. Marines at President Joe Biden’s speech last week declaring Donald Trump and his “MAGA forces” to be a “threat to this country.”
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American Military News contacted the Pentagon as well as the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for comment about the use of uniformed personnel in Biden’s speech on Thursday. The Pentagon didn’t respond by the time of publishing, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s office only referred questions about the controversy to the White House.
Milley’s office also hasn’t provided comment to at least one other news agency.
On Sunday, Breitbart News Pentagon correspondent Kristina Wong tweeted, “I queried Gen Milley’s office about this but did not get a response. Shocking, I know. By @joelpollak: General Mark Milley Still Silent After Marines Used in Biden Speech Attacking ‘MAGA Republicans.'”
Despite military leaders’ silence on the issue, the White House said its positioning of the Marines behind Biden was intentional. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “The presence of the Marines at the speech was intended to demonstrate the deep and abiding respect the president has for these service members.”
However, Biden’s speech didn’t mention his respect for the military.
Biden repeatedly described Trump and “MAGA Republicans” as a threat to “this country,” “the very foundations of our republic,” “American democracy” and “our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.”
U.S. military leaders have been careful in the past about the appearance of uniformed service members in political settings. Such appearances can lead to a perception that the military is being politicized.
Peter Feaver, a Duke University political science professor told the Washington Post that “the choice to literally keep the Marines guards in the frame was an unfortunate one.”
If Milley does intend to eventually address the appearance of the Marines for Biden’s speech, it would not be the first time he has displayed a sensitivity towards the U.S. military being perceived as political.
In June 2020, Milley walked with then-President Donald Trump across the street from the White House as Trump surveyed fire damage to a neighboring church caused by rioters the day prior.
Milley apologized for appearing alongside Trump near the church, stating his appearance “sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there.”
“My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” Milley added. “As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from.”
According to a recently published book, the fallout from Milley’s walk with Trump near the fire-damaged church disturbed him so much that he considered resigning entirely from his leadership role in the military. Instead, Milley allegedly decided to resist actions within Trump’s administration and “fight from the inside.”