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Army opens investigation into two reservists wearing uniforms during Democratic convention video

The U.S. Army opened an investigation Wednesday into why two reservists ignored rules prohibiting them from wearing their uniforms for political campaign and election events as they appeared on camera for American Samoa’s roll call at the Democratic Convention Tuesday night.

‘Wearing a uniform to a partisan political event like this is prohibited,’ Army officials said in a statement announcing the probe. ‘The Army follows the Department of Defense’s longstanding and well-defined policy regarding political campaigns and elections to avoid the perception of DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of any political candidate, campaign or cause.’

‘Examples of prohibited political activities include campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions, marching in a partisan parade and wearing the uniform to a partisan event,’ the statement detailed.

The Democratic National Committee said during a convention press briefing on Wednesday morning that the soldiers appearing in the short video was an ‘oversight.’

The pair wore camouflage, coronavirus-era black face masks and stood silently behind delegates Aliitama Sotoa and Patti Matila as they voiced American Samoa’s Democratic Party support for Joe Biden to become the nominee to take on President Donald Trump.

‘The production of that was just an oversight,’ DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa told reporters as Republicans confirmed to that there should be an investigation into the matter. 

‘And each state was asked to highlight the issues and the values to their location and to their communities and that is one that American Samoa delegation wanted to highlight,’ she said, referencing a military history in the seven islands that make up the U.S. territory.

Department of Defense officials are raising eyebrows after a duo of uniformed junior enlisted Army soldiers flanked two Democratic delegates as they recited the territory’s delegate count Tuesday night. 

The House Armed Services Committee Communications Director Monica Matoush said lawmakers are looking to the Pentagon for answers on the incident as the Army opened an investigation. 

‘While we have requested information related to the chain of events, we will look to the Department of Defense to ensure all servicemembers understand the law and make a decision about the next steps based on the findings from their internal inquiry,’ she told 

The move brings into question the integrity of the Army as a non-partisan military institution.

A spokesman for Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry told, ‘Congressman Thornberry believes it is appropriate for the Department of Defense to investigate this incident.’  

The Pentagon has not responded to a request for comment on the use of uniformed soldiers in the video and the White House has not commented on President Donald Trump’s thoughts on the matter.

The second night of the Democratic National Convention included a roll call where all 50 states, Washington D.C. and U.S. territories had around a minute each for delegates to make remarks as they nominated Biden as the candidate.

While the soldiers’ faces in the American Samoa clip were covered, their names were clearly visible on their uniforms. It is unclear, however, who approved their presence for the political campaign video.

Speaking in front and in the center of the two soldiers were Democratic Party Leaders Sotoa and Matila.

Ahead of their roll call, the DNC announced that the duo would ‘celebrate American Samoa’s legacy of military service—and Joe Biden’s work to improve the territory’s infrastructure.’

‘Joe Biden honors our service, and we trust him to support our community,’ Matilda said in the short clip as she gestured to the military members behind her.

The two Army reservists are part of the 9th Mission Support Command, which falls under U.S. Army Pacific. While the headquarters are in Honolulu, Hawaii, the command includes more than 3,500 reservists soldiers in places like American Samoa, Alaska, Japan, Korea, Guam and Saipan.

While U.S. military personnel are allowed to support candidates and attend political rallies, they are barred from wearing their uniform to such events and can only attend them on their own time.

All active duty and reservist American military members are instructed to remain apolitical during political campaigns. 

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