In a rare joint memo, top US military leaders remind troops of duty to defend Constitution

PTI, Jan 13, 2021, 10:18 AM IST

Washington DC: In a rare move, US military’s top leaders have issued a joint statement reminding all service members of their duty to uphold the Constitution, asserting that the right to free speech gives no one the right to resort to violence.

The memo – issued on Tuesday and signed by America’s most senior general, Mark Milley, and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff – comes amidst fears of more deadly violence by extremists supporting outgoing President Donald Trump.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday warned of ”armed protests” being planned at all 50 US state capitols and in Washington DC in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

”As we have done throughout our history, the US military will obey lawful orders from the civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” said the eight senior leaders of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in the one-page letter.

”As service members, we must embody the values and ideals of the nation. We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath; it is against the law,” the statement said.

The joint statement also denounced the attacks on the Capitol on January 6, during which violent Trump supporters stormed the building that resulted in the deaths of five people.

“We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection,” the statement said.

”The violent riot in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021, was a direct assault on the US Congress, the Capitol Building and our Constitutional process. We mourn the deaths of the two Capitol policemen and others connected to these unprecedented events,” it said.

According to The New York Times, the joint statement is the latest example of an apolitical American military and its top leadership thrust into an awkward, even potentially dangerous, position of possibly having to weigh dubious orders from the president against their oath to uphold the Constitution.

The CNN said the extraordinary statement underscores the scale of the challenge and the depth of the uncertainty and concern in Washington, where officials across the US security establishment scramble to deal with the aftermath of the chaos at the Capitol, and around the country, as all 50 states are preparing for possible violence.

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