Military Presence Behind Donald Trump Sparks Major Backlash

( – On March 1, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump visited the different locations along the southern border. Both the US leader and the GOP presidential primary candidate made speeches in their respective locations. While they each had strong words to say, one thing stood out during Trump’s speech that caused outrage online — a military man in uniform allegedly broke the rules by standing behind Trump while he addressed the public.

On the day of the visits, Newsweek reported that the military presence behind the former president raised alarm bells. The head of the Texas Military Department Major General Thomas Suelzer, a former active duty member of the US Air Force and Air Force Reserve, stood over Trump’s left shoulder in fatigues during Trump’s campaign event at Eagle Pass. Several people took to social media to blast Suelzer, one saying he was “nodding along in uniform while a political candidate [went] on a racist tirade.” Another called his presence a “terrible failure of leadership,” as there are strict rules about military members and partisanship.

According to the Department of Defense (DoD), active duty members of the armed forces are not allowed to engage in partisan political activities and should avoid appearing as though the DoD is sponsoring, approving, or endorsing a particular candidate. Those included in the directive are active duty members, reservists, retired members, and non-federal National Guard members. The frequently asked questions sheet issued by the DoD specifically states that wearing uniforms to political events is prohibited and applies to all members.

Former Army officer Mark Hertling reportedly believes the rules don’t apply to Suelzer because he is a political appointee, not a federal military member. According to the Military Times, the guidelines surrounding the major general aren’t clear because state guard members aren’t subject to federal rules. However, that assessment conflicts with the FAQs from the DoD.

Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service Professor Heidi Urben called it a blatant “violation of the military’s form of nonpartisanship.” It’s unclear if Suelzer will face consequences for his actions.

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