Joint Chiefs of Staff tells troops to avoid being lured into making political statements

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has a meet and greet with airmen assigned the 374th Airlift Wing on the flight line of Yokota Air Base, Nov. 4, 2015. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is sending a clear message to members of the military: stay out of politics.

Gen. Joseph Dunford is drafting a letter to all troops and high-ranking officials to stay quiet when it comes to political matters.

The decision to draft the letter was apparently triggered by the growing concern that top US military leaders are “increasingly being asked to comment on proposals by presidential candidates.”

Captain Gregory Hicks, the chairman’s spokesman, says the policy to remain apolitical is tougher to uphold during an election year. Hicks noted that the issue often comes up during the presidential campaign season and troops are reminded not to appear in uniform at political events.

Dunford’s letter will reportedly be aimed at senior commanders, who are often asked to weigh in on the foreign policy proposals of presidential candidates.

While the U.S. military has a longstanding tradition of remaining out of politics–the intense national security debate on the campaign trail — seems to be making that more challenging.

When top generals are questioned  on policies at news conferences and during testimony on Capitol Hill, they’re often pressed to give their opinion on ideas being proposed by the candidates — such as Donald Trump’s statements about water-boarding terrorists or Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposals for carpet-bombing ISIS.

Related: Journalists using DoD press briefings to plant politically charged questions

Following the political conventions later this year, the military and intelligence communities will begin to brief both the Republican and Democratic nominees.

Dunford’s note is expected to be sent  to all military forces as soon as this week.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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