How to navigate politics without partisanship


Partisan politics in Washington is undoubtedly raging, so military leaders will have to come up with policies and ways to protect their people without appearing to take sides, Washington, D.C. a group of longtime policy makers said on Tuesday.

“It’s impossible to be the leader of an organization and not be a political actor,” said Cori Sheik of the American Enterprise Institute. Security Research Center Meeting Tuesday at Georgetown University.

Military leaders must be able to build coalitions, defend their causes, and know “when to hide behind civilian bosses and when to come forward and ask the tough questions for them.” “It’s political activity. It’s not scary. In fact, we should want military leaders to have it.”

The debate over how to navigate politics while in uniform stems from the uncomfortable new reality that senior officers frequently face the sights of competing political factions.

Witness how the military has been involved in many wars partisan battle Over the past few years, Trump’s infamous Walk Lafayette Square With retired Maj. Gen. Pat Donahoe his attempt To confront Tucker Carlson’s misogynistic view of women in the military.

Awkward and clingy public appearances, especially when top officials were used as political punching bags during public hearings, appear to have eroded public confidence in the military, according to a report last year. Reagan Defense SurveyRespondents cited the perceived politicization of their organization as the reason for the recent decline in confidence, which has dropped from over 70% to around 40%.

Partisan sentiment was also taken into account, with conservative-leaning respondents citing so-called “awakened” policies, such as renaming Army posts to remove Confederate-era monikers, but more Liberal participants were concerned about infiltration by right-wing extremists.

Sheik has a quick but controversial potential to curb rising politicization, including proposing that Congress ban stations such as MSNBC and Fox News from broadcasting on television in communal spaces on military installations. suggested a high fix.

and she said Congress was able to get its own house in order by ending the practice of treating uniformed leaders as White House stand-ins. It suggested that fellow legislators could block or exclude inflammatory political questioning of members.

And the leaders themselves may be more savvy. Shake felt that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, should have turned to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last year when he was asked whether important racial theories were being taught at the military academy.

Biden Garrison, who led the Pentagon’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts during the first 18 months of the Biden administration, said: He countered that there could be a time and place to enter.

“When something like the CRT, a critical racial theory, is circulated and used explicitly in a partisan way to have some kind of divisive effect, it’s not directed at our most senior leaders. I think it’s important from a leadership standpoint, when you’re called upon, to be involved in these kinds of conversations,” Garrison said. “Whether or not he went too far can be argued briefly … but really I think the very involvement in that way at that stage is important to us right now. .”

Sheikh said it’s also important that leadership stands up when people are attacked, even if the debate is bipartisan.

The U.S. Army got into a public relations quagmire last year when it investigated a commander at Fort Benning, Georgia. Major General Pat Donahoe, now retiredsome of his social media activities.

Donahoe tweeted against Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s comments.

“So we got a new hairstyle and a maternity flight suit,” Carlson said, adding that the recently updated Army and air force hair control Allows braids and ponytails. “Pregnant women will fight our war. A mockery of the U.S. military.”

Donahoe evaded disciplinary action, and many in the military rallied in his support for women in uniform. “Culture Wars”.

New guidelines should be imposed on Army-wide social media behavior because “the agency viewed senior military leaders engaging in partisan bickering on social media with key media figures.” said Sheikh.

However, the need for these guidelines has been growing for some time.

“We are in an environment where people have something to say. [chief of staff] I say — completely out of context,” Secretary of War Christine Wormuth said in October. I think it shows how hard it is to not be blamed.”

But that shouldn’t mean hiding completely from the political conversation, said Heidi Arben, a professor of security studies at Georgetown and a retired Army colonel.

“There is a danger in the military interpreting nonpartisanship as looking for a mythical equidistant point between two parties. First, it doesn’t exist,” she said. They try to occupy a place that seems harmless to the parties, because when one moves to the extreme, its equidistant point moves with it.”

She added that nonpartisan doesn’t necessarily mean bipartisan and agree with both sides. That means I don’t endorse one or the other.

Megan Myers is the Pentagon Bureau Chief of the Military Times. She covers operations, policy, human resources, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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