The DoD has issued its 2012 election year guidance for all servicemembers. Hopefully it will help you avoid the pitfall that Army Cpl. Jesse Thorsen hit when he agreed to speak at a Ron Paul rally in January 2012. In other words, you don't want to be "that guy".
The big difference this year is that the DoD has provided a Q & A section and a section addressing Online/Social Media issues. This guidance can be found here.
The guidance encourages all members of the military and their families to exercise their civic duties by registering to vote. However, it also cautions in several key areas. The bottom line appears to be that the DoD encourages all military members and their families to be involved in the political process, but to not express opinions about political issues as a representative of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Below is a distillation of the memorandum issued June 26, 2012. To see the full text of the memorandum, go here.
1. Use Army Regulation AR 360-1 regarding political candidates' request to use military facilities. Of note, installation commanders are prohibited from allowing military facilties by any candidate for political assemblies, fundraisers, meetings, press conferences or any other activity that could be construed as political in nature.
2. While elected officials may still visit military installations on official business, they must refrain from making campaign or election-related statements or responding to campaign or election-related queries while on the installation.
3. While elected officials and political candidates may use footage, photographs and recorded statements taken while on an installation visit for campaing or election-related purposes, they may not utilize said footage or recordings to imply that military personnel or the DoD endorses the candidate or official. Furthermore, candidates and political officials may not film campaign commercials at military installations.
4. Army participation or support, in the way of troops, bands, and color guards ay not be used in political meetings, ceremonies or similar events. Requests for DoD members to speak at non-DoD events should be scrutinized carefully to preclude participation in politicall-oriented programs.
5. While active duty military members and civilian employees may participate in the political process, they are subject to restrictions that preclude them from engaging in any partisan political activity while on duty or in uniform. Army personnel may NOT engage in political activity while on duty. All military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve Forces are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaigns and election events. For further guidance, refer to DoD Directive 1344.10 and AR 600-20, para. 5-3. Political activities of federal civilian employees is governed under the revised Hatch Act amendments, 5 U.S.C. 7321-7326, 5 C.F.R. Parts 733-734. To see the full text of the DoD guidance, go here.
For expanded guidance for all DoD members and civilan employees, visit the CPOL Library site.
Posted by Master Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon Military Department Social Media Manager