Military, Political Activities
By Lt. Col. Tammie Sledge, 20th Fighter Wing Legal Office
/ Published February 19, 2016
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- During the 2016 election season, the Air Force and the Department of Defense encourages Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen to exercise their right to vote and freely express their political views. However, service members must be aware that their political activities have the potential to give the appearance of official sponsorship, approval or endorsement by the DOD.
With this in mind, military members may not participate in fundraisers, rallies, meetings, conventions, or debates while in uniform. The DOD strictly prohibits the use of government facilities or resources for partisan political activities or the engagement in any activity that would imply the military supports the participant.
Further, while service members are permitted to have regular political bumper stickers on their vehicles on base, members who reside on base may not display political signage within public view of their base residence. A member also may not use his or her official authority or influence to solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue nor solicit or require political contributions from others.
In every instance in which a military member is exercising his or her right to free expression, he or she must exercise due care and common sense. If a member is unsure of whether their political activities violate Air Force or DoD policy, they should consult Air Force Instruction 51-902 and DOD Instruction 1344.10 or contact the 20th Fighter Wing Legal Office at 803-895-1560.