By Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON – The nation’s top soldier said the military would play no role in the upcoming election, a position that would include standing by if President Trump refused to leave the White House if he lost the election.
Gen. Mark Milley, who was selected as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President Trump, told Congress that the military will not be involved in the election process or resolving a possible disputed vote this November.
Milley was responding to questions from two members of the House Armed Services Committee. “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. I foresee no role for the U.S armed forces in this process,” Milley said in one response.
On a second point, asked whether the armed forces would reject a presidential order to use military force for political gain, Milley said, “I will not follow an unlawful order.”
The responses were first reported by the AP.
Milley’s responses, however, are a deft play on words. His repeated assertion that he “will not follow an unlawful order” skirts the fact that – -according to military law – any order Trump would give is considered a lawful order, since the president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Under the military code, a superior’s order is presumed to be lawful and is disobeyed at the subordinate’s peril. The order must relate to military duty, which includes all activities reasonably necessary to accomplish a military mission, or safeguard or promote the morale, discipline, and usefulness of members of a unit and directly with the maintenance of good order in the armed forces.
Additionally, an order that has for its sole object a private end is unlawful, but an order that benefits the command as well as serving individuals is lawful.
The oath taken by a member of the military includes the vow “I will obey the orders of the President of the United States.” The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Article 90 states that military personnel need to obey the “lawful orders of his/her superior.” The duty and obligation to obey lawful orders creates no grey area for discussion.
There remains the issue if military members have a duty to disobey “unlawful orders” including orders of senior officers, Secretary of Defense, and the President of the United States. The UCMJ actually protects the soldier in this situation as he/she has a moral and legal obligation to the Constitution and not to obey unlawful orders and the people who issue them. These have to be strong examples of a direct violation of the Constitution and the UCMJ and not the military member’s own opinion, legal analysts have written.
As he did in 2016, Trump has said he may not accept the results of the election. He has also taken steps that she say are designed to thwart the voting process, suggested the election be delayed, and increasing used the military as partisan props.
Milley’s responses to the questions were due to the committee Thursday. Also queried was Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who did not respond, according to reports.