US politics defense
June 12 2019 - 2:08 AM
Pentagon chief calls for political neutrality in military
Washington, June 11, 2019 (AFP) - Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan
sent a memorandum to all Department of Defense employees Tuesday requesting
that they remain politically neutral, following a controversy over a warship
bearing the name of senator John McCain.
"All DoD personnel, service members, and civilian employees alike, swear an
oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," Shanahan
said in the memo, which was sent to all Pentagon employees and military
"Our mission, to protect and defend the nation, is apolitical."
Shanahan confirmed Sunday that the White House had requested that the USS
John S. McCain be kept out of sight during a visit to Japan by President
Donald Trump, a political rival of the late senator.
The president's staff had contacted the Japan-based 7th Fleet of the US
Navy and given "the directive that the USS John S. McCain should be hidden
When asked about the memo, Shanahan told reporters, "What I wanted to do
is, after the McCain situation, remind everyone that we're not going to
politicize the military."
"Think of all the travel that's going to come up. Think of the season that
we're entering into," he said, referring to the impending 2020 presidential
"So nothing is wrong with having a reminder."
Trump had a combative political relationship with McCain, who died in
August of brain cancer and was taken prisoner and tortured during the Vietnam
McCain, a respected figure in US politics for decades who himself ran for
president twice, withdrew his support for Trump in the 2016 presidential
election and blocked Trump's healthcare efforts in Congress in 2017.
Even after McCain's death, the president has continued to make his dislike
clear, saying he was "never a fan of John McCain and never will be."
When the allegations of the White House ordering the warship hidden came to
light, Trump insisted he would not have ordered hiding the vessel from his
view, adding he "couldn't care less" whether a Navy destroyer bore McCain's