Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are photographed in the Joint Chiefs of Staff conference room, more commonly referred to as “The Tank”, in the Pentagon, Dec. 11, 2020. From left to right are: Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Michael M. Gilday, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of the National Guard Bureau Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. Raymond. (DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)
In the wake of last week’s violent assault on the US Capitol, the nation’s top military leaders put out an unambiguous message to military members: President-elect Joe Biden will become the commander-in-chief Jan. 20, and “any act to disrupt the Constitutional process” is illegal.
In a memo sent to the joint force today, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and rest of the Joint Staff decried the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob seeking to prevent Congress from certifying the electoral college results — the final formal step in cementing Biden’s victory.
“As Service Members, we must embody the values and ideals of the Nation,” the memo said. “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.”
“On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief,” it continued.
The memo was released hours after the Army said in a statement that the service is working with the Secret Service “to determine which service members supporting the national special security event for the inauguration require additional background screening.”
“Per Department of Defense policy, all service members are trained annually on the Threat Awareness and Reporting Program (TARP), which requires department personnel to report any information regarding known or suspected extremist behavior that could be a threat to the department or the United States,” the statement said.
Military.com reported that the National Guard is also advising service members activated for the inauguration “that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command,” according to the statement.
“There is no place for extremism in the military, and we will investigate each report individually and take appropriate action,” the statement adds.
"The violent riot in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process." — Message to the Joint Force from Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley and the rest of the Joint Chiefs. pic.twitter.com/coIh9yqEpI
— Katie Bo Williams (@KatieBoWill) January 12, 2021
The full text of the memo from the Joint Staff follows:
The American people have trusted the Armed Forces of the United States to protect them and our Constitution for almost 250 years. As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from 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.
The violent riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process. We mourn the deaths of the two Capitol policemen and others connected to these unprecedented events.
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.
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.
On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief.
To our men and women deployed and at home, safeguarding our country—stay ready, keep your eyes on the horizon, and remain focused on the mission. We honor your continued service in defense of every American.
Ethan E. Rocke is a contributor and former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine, a New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He is a veteran of the US Army and Marine Corps. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine, and many others. He is co-author of The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.