In the coming issue of Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal widely distributed among officers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff writes a welcome but unusual open letter to everyone who wears an Armed Forces uniform: stay out of the political arena during the election season.
“The U.S. military must remain apolitical at all times and in all ways,” wrote the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, the nation’s highest-ranking officer. “It is and must always be a neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway.”
It’s good advice, and a good policy. Mullen realizes that there will attempts to politicize the military, and with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan playing a huge role in the election-season debate, there will be opportunities for politicians to try to exploit those in uniform for partisan and/or electoral gain. Mullen wisely counsels the military to steer clear of the political morass.
Regrettably, John McCain’s campaign didn’t get the message.