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Guidance on political activity, DOD support 2020

As previously noted, active duty military members are prohibited from participating in partisan political activity. Therefore, while service members may “follow,” “friend,” or “like” a political party or candidate running for partisan office, they may not post links to, “share” or “retweet” comments or tweets from the Facebook page or twitter account of a political party or candidate running for partisan office. Such activity is deemed to constitute participation in political activities.

Service members must also be careful not to comment, post, or link to material that shows contempt for public officials, contains sensitive information or discredits the armed forces or is prejudicial to good order and discipline. Such activity may violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Social media guidance for military members and civilian employees offers advice on how to avoid violating the rules.

DOD Support to Campaigns

Any activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating DOD, or any component or personnel of DOD, with a partisan political activity or is otherwise contrary to the spirit and intention of this guidance must be avoided. Consistent with this, installation commanders must decline requests for military personnel or federal civilian employees to appear in or support political campaign or election events in their official capacities, with the exception of providing joint armed forces color guards at the opening ceremonies of the national conventions of the Republican, Democratic and other political parties formally recognized by the Federal Election Commission. In addition, installation commanders shall not permit the use of military facilities by any candidate for political campaign or election events, including public assemblies or town hall meetings, speeches, fundraisers, press conferences, post-election celebrations and concession addresses.

Use of Official DOD

Seals and Emblems

Official seals of DOD and the military services may only be used for official purposes. Military service marks, including those appearing on flags, “may not be licensed for use in a manner that creates a perception of DOD endorsement of any nonfederal entity or its products or services.” DOD employees authorized to participate in political activities in their personal capacities must not sanction use of the flag or otherwise create an actual or apparent endorsement of a candidate or campaign by DOD or a military service.

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