by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Cunningham
673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs
1/13/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- During
this election cycle, all Department of Defense personnel, military and
civilian, should be mindful of the proper way to participate in the
According to DoD Directive 1344.10, Political Activities by Members of
the Armed Forces, it is the policy to encourage DoD civilians and active
duty members to carry out the obligations of citizenship without
endorsing or implying an endorsement for a political party.
Although guidance for political conduct is communicated through a
variety of instructions, below are some basic rules to remember.
Civilian and military personnel are allowed to express their personal
views on public issues or political candidates via social media
platforms. However, if the person is identified by a social media site
as a DoD employee, the posting must state that the views are those of
the employee only. Active-duty members and restricted civilian
employees may follow, friend, or like a political party or candidate
running for office, but may not post links to, share or re-tweet
comments from the account of a political party or candidate running for a
partisan office. Service members must also be sure not to comment,
link or post anything that violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice
or service regulations, like showing contempt for public officials,
releasing sensitive information, or posting unprofessional material that
is prejudicial to good order and discipline under the UCMJ.
Active duty members
'Active duty' includes those who are on full-time and annual training
duty, at a service school, retirees, members of the Reserve components
not on active duty, full-time National Guard duty, and members of the
National Guard even when in non-federal status.
Active-duty personnel may register to vote, encourage other members to
exercise voting rights, and express personal opinions on candidates and
issues. They may also join a political club and attend meetings when not
in uniform, sign petitions for specific legislative action or to place a
candidate's name on the ballot.
Written letters to an editor expressing personal views are also
permitted as long as it's not part of an organized letter-writing
campaign or solicitation of votes for or against a partisan political
party or candidate. When participating, the letters are required to have
a disclaimer that the views are those of the writer and not the DoD
when the letter identifies the writer as DoD personnel or the
association can be reasonably assumed.
They can make monetary contributions to a political organization, party,
or committee; display a bumper sticker on their vehicle or attend
fundraising activities, meetings, rallies, debates, conventions or other
activities when not in uniform and when no appearance of sponsorship or
endorsement can be reasonably drawn.
Participation in local nonpartisan political activities is allowed as
long as the member is not in uniform and does not use government
resources or property, the event does not interfere with duty, and there
is no implied government position or involvement.
Active-duty members are not allowed to campaign for a partisan club, or
speak before a partisan gathering. They also may not publish partisan
political articles or letters that solicit votes for or against a
partisan political party, candidate or cause.
In addition, active duty members can't participate in any radio,
television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or
against a partisan political party, candidate or cause. Nor may they
serve in an official capacity as a sponsor or advocate for or against a
partisan political party, candidate or cause.
According to the Hatch Act, DoD civilians' participation in political
activities are regulated by a combination of categories which list them
as "further restricted" or "less restricted".
Further restricted employees include those appointed by the president of
the United States and confirmed by the Senate, individuals serving in
non-career senior executive service positions or career members of the
SES, contract appeals board members, and some others. Specific lists
are available at www.osc.gov, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel
Other DoD civilian employees are qualified as less restricted.
These employees may volunteer with a political campaign or organization
while in their personal capacities, like organizing political rallies
and meetings, making phone calls on behalf of the candidate, or working
for a political party to get out the vote on Election Day. They are,
however, prohibited from soliciting or receiving political
No matter which type of civilian employee, neither may engage in
political activity while on duty or in a federal building. Forwarding
political emails, posting political messages to a Facebook page or
engaging in political tweets while in a federal building (to include
when off duty or when using personal equipment) is prohibited. Also,
government equipment must never be used to engage in political