The military’s top leaders issued a written reminder to all service members today that the deadly insurrection at the Capitol last week was an anti-democratic, criminal act, and that the right to free speech gives no-one the right to commit violence.
A memo signed by all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also reminded military members that Joe Biden was duly elected as the next president and will be sworn in to office on January 20.
The memo was unusual in that the military leadership, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, felt compelled to remind service members that it is wrong to disrupt the constitutional process.
‘The violent riot… was as direct assault on the US Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process,’ said a memorandum signed by all eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It comes as law enforcement agencies attempt to determine the full extent of criminal activity at the Capitol and to discover the extent of participation by current or past military members.
Among the known retired veterans who stormed the Capitol was Ashli Babbitt, a retired Air Force veteran, who was shot dead by an officer as she tried to climb through a broken window to breach the chamber.
The Army is also investigating a psychological warfare officer for leading a group of people from North Carolina to the rally.
Captain Emily Rainey defended her actions saying she acted ‘within military regulations’ and no one within her group broke the law.
Retired Lt. Col Larry Rendall Brock Jr., 53, was pictured carrying plastic handcuffs and wearing full military gear in the Senate chamber during the riot.
‘The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection,’ they said.
The letter said members of the armed services are bound to defend the constitution.
‘Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath; it is against the law.’
It has already been established that some military veterans participated in the riots at the Capitol, but the extent of any active-duty involvement has not been established.
Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, on Monday wrote to the Defense Department requesting that its criminal investigative organizations cooperate with the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police in investigating whether current and retired members of the armed forces were part of a ‘seditious conspiracy’ against the government.
The Joint Chiefs memo did not allude directly to the question of military involvement.
‘We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law,’ the memo said. ‘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.’
Ahead of next week’s inauguration and President Trump’s departure from office, the National Guard is gearing up to provide support to law enforcement agencies. There is no plan to use active-duty forces in security operations.
The Pentagon is deploying as many as 15,000 National Guard troops to protect Biden’s inauguration on January 20, amid fears of new violence.
Pentagon officials were asked Monday about the possibility of pro-Trump activists in the Guard and among regular troops.
‘We don’t tolerate extremists in our ranks,’ said spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
Underscoring the point, the Joint Chiefs said that, ‘in accordance with the Constitution,’ Biden would be inaugurated on January 20th ‘and will become our 46th commander in chief.’
It’s not clear how many current and retired veterans took part in the riot at Capitol, and the full extent of the involvement of military members is under investigation.
Among those under investigation is Rainey, 30, who is assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, according to Maj. Daniel Lessard, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command.
Known as PSYOPS, the group uses information and misinformation to shape the emotions, decision-making and actions of American adversaries.