Slotkin, Sherrill Welcome Commitment from General Milley to Uphold Military’s Apolitical role

In response to members’ questions, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs pledges to avoid involvement in the election, support a peaceful transition of power, reject any unlawful orders

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill

PARSIPPANY — U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) and Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) today welcomed commitments they received from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, to protect the military’s apolitical status, avoid military involvement in the election process, respect the peaceful transition of presidential authority under the Constitution and refuse to obey any unlawful orders.

Milley’s answers came in response to questions Slotkin and Sherrill submitted following a July hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on military involvement in civilian law enforcement, and in the wake of comments and actions by President Trump suggesting he might seek to use active-duty forces for domestic political purposes. Sherrill was able to address some, but not all, of these issues during the hearing. Slotkin and Sherrill submitted their questions for Milley and to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper; Esper has yet to respond.

Among Milley’s commitments:

  • Asked about the possibility of officials trying to use the military for partisan political gain, Milley said, “I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military” and committed to obey all lawful orders and to refuse to obey any lawful order.
  • Asked if there are any circumstances under which he would deem it necessary to send the U.S. military to polling places, Milley answered that, “State and Federal governments have qualified individuals who oversee” elections and that, “I do not see the U.S. Military as part of this process.”
  • Milley confirmed that disputes over election outcomes must be resolved by civilian authorities, saying, “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. Military.… We will not turn our backs on the Constitution of the United States.”

Article II of the Constitution of the United States vests the power of the Presidency in one President and gives Congress the authority to certify his or her election. The Uniformed Code of Military Justice requires members of the U.S. military to obey orders from the congressionally-certified President.