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Army says soldier's appearance in campaign ad was wrong, but not a crime

By LISA BURGESS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 17, 2006

ARLINGTON, Va. — The soldier who appeared in uniform as part of a televised campaign advertisement for Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine was wrong, but he did not commit a crime, according to an Army spokesman.

Wearing a uniform during partisan political events “is counter to Defense Department directives and Army policy,” Army spokesman Paul Boyce told Stripes.

However, it is not a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Boyce said.

Offenders would merit “some in-office counseling or other administrative reprimand,” not a court-martial, Boyce said.

However, Army officials would like to use the DeWine incident to remind all soldiers “that they should avoid doing anything of a partisan nature during elections,” Boyce said.

The soldier in question, who appeared to have the rank of sergeant, appeared in the spot with a woman and two young girls, standing in front of an American flag, according to The Associated Press.

DeWine, a two-term Republican, is in a close race with Democrat Sherrod Brown.

The soldier, who was wearing Army fatigues with “Larkin” on the nametape, did not speak during his brief appearance, which unlike other photos of soldiers in combat used earlier in the ad, appeared to have been filmed specifically for the campaign spot, the AP said.

Army officials “are continuing to look into the matter,” Boyce said. “But we have no identity for this individual yet.”

“We’ve got about 160 Larkins” listed on the Army’s rosters, he said.

DeWine spokesman Brian Seitchik declined to give information about the soldier to The Associated Press, except that he is in fact a real soldier, not an actor.

Asked repeatedly whether Army officials intend to ask DeWine’s campaign office for assistance in identifying the soldier, Boyce refused to answer.

“We will continue to work with all members of Congress to help them understand” DOD policies and directives on political involvement by servicemembers, Boyce said.

Those regulations are very clear, according to Marine Maj. Stu Upton, a Pentagon spokesman.

Servicemembers “shouldn’t be appearing in a campaign ads in their uniforms, and if they have, they should be held accountable for it,” Upton told Stripes on Monday.

The advertisement was sent to the Pentagon officials’ attention Oct. 10 by a liberal political blog called Talking Points Memo, Upton said.

DeWine’s campaign office did not respond to Stripes’ request for comment by deadline, including questions about whether the advertisement in question has been pulled from the air.


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