'Chief petty officer' takes a side on Syria


(Source: Facebook)

This photo of an individual wearing what appears to be the uniform of a chief gunner’s mate made the Internet rounds over the weekend, inciting heated discussions and thousands of cumulative comments on whether it’s appropriate to make a political statement while in uniform.

It also appeared alongside several other photos of individuals wearing what appear to be U.S. military uniforms in a message left at Marines.com by hackers (image here). The Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for the Monday attack, but the image of the chief’s uniform appeared online days earlier, separate from the SEA message.

(Source: Facebook)

Defense Department Directive 1344.10 lays out a host of regulations for active-duty service members and their political opinions. While social media and foreign policy aren’t specifically addressed, there are plenty of limits placed on displaying signs, writing letters to the editor or participating in a political broadcast either while in uniform or as a representative of the armed forces.

The rant inspired some copycats, including this  “soldier” to the right.

This question came up just last year, when Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Christopher Millen posed on his Tumblr site with a sign praising Obamacare and denigrating Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Millen showed his face and signed his banner, but he didn’t face any punishment. In this latest case, it remains to be seen whether the individual is a) a sailor, b) can be identified, and c) faces any repercussions.

In addition to his E-7 rank, it appears he’s in surface warfare and has at least one deployment during the first Gulf War under his belt.

Commenters came down mostly against the sailor, although some argued that his hidden face and his First Amendment rights should trump any military laws.

And of course, the internet responded in kind.

(Source: Facebook)

(Source: Facebook)









What do you think? Does it make a difference that he doesn’t identify himself? Should troops be able to express their opinions in general?



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  1. I want to know if the messages from these service members are because they disagree with the potential war or because they don’t like who is in the White House. Would they say this if Romney or McCain were CIC? Also, don’t be cowards and show your faces.

  2. We are Airman, Soldiers, Marines and Sailors that have sworn or affirmed to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This is just another example of one mans self interest overriding our armed forces interest. Retire if you don’t like it and give up your pay for a less stressful job.

  3. Angela Atkinson on

    He joined the navy to serve not to pick what wars he does or doesn’t want to be in. Not only is it a disgrace to himself it’s a disgrace to all the other chiefs the navy has, because if this is examples of the people the navy made chiefs then there is something seriously wrong with the selection boards. He should have gotten out a long time ago!

  4. As evidenced by the lack of a Combat Action Ribbon on that Chief’s uniform, he clearly didnt join to fight IN ANY WAY..

  5. Dr. Tom Phelan on

    No one wants to see more people injured or killed. As one with three Lt. Colonels in the family, their loyalty to duty has always come before personal interests, as far as I can tell. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to a personal opinion on any topic. If a member of service is concerned about who is in the White House, that member must have been in for a very short time. The White House changes; serving your country doesn’t depend on who is in the White House.

  6. In response to Enrique Acosta:

    Yes, absolutely all members of the military took the oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America, against all enemies foreign and domestic. I fail to see how Assad is an enemy of the US or our constitution. How exactly would be supporting and defending our constitution by lobbing cruise missiles at a country who intends to do us no harm?

    This is an act of war if we do this. Would it not be an act of war if Syria, or another country lobbed a few cruise missiles into Washington DC or New York City? Of course it would.

    I’ve got lots of friends still on ships that are in the middle east right now, and I’d hate to see them get hurt or killed in a civili war that is none of our business.

    As horrid as the use of chemical weapons are, this is not our fight. Our involvement will only make the civil war worse and see the potential rise of another theocracy in the region. Not to mention another Al Qaeda strong hold taking root.

  7. Former Active Duty on

    @Enrique Acosta, We are Airman, Soldiers, Marines and Sailors that have sworn or affirmed to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC.

    The point is Syria is not OUR ENEMY. They have not attacked the US. They have done nothing to justify our intervening. If someone needs to intervene let it be someone else for once. Let the Arab League sort this out.

    @Kat, they don’t show their faces because it is against the UCMJ to make political statements in uniform. I would ask you to refrain from using the word “coward” to describe people who signed up to give their lives for you, God forbid they say they didn’t sign up to give their lives to die for some other country’s citizens.

  8. Pingback: ‘Chief petty officer’ takes a side on Syria — OFFduty+

  9. @ Kat, injecting race? It is absolutely disgusting that you would inject race into his decision. You are the lowest of the low.

    @ Enrique Acosta, I bet you railed against GWB and Iraq, saying something to the effect of we are not the police of the world.

    @ Angela Atkinson, why does he not have the right to freedom of speech?

    @ Hasbun MB, The OVERWHELMING majority of Sailors never earn a Combat Action Ribbon. The fact that you would bring that up shows that you like inventing crap just to satisfy your own warped opinion of what you feel is right and what you feel is wrong.

    I retired in 2003. I did not support Afghanistan or Iraq. I was not ashamed to tell people that I didn’t support either war, but I still did my job. I suspect that Chief Gunners Mate will do his job in spite of his feelings about launching some attack on Syria.

    The fact remains that we have no interest in Syria. The opposition is led by Al Qaeda, the group we are supposed to be eliminating from the face of the planet.

    It is wrong headed to go into Syria. It can only end badly.

  10. Hey E-7 drop your anchors at the door and report to the mess decks. You are no chief in the US Navy. I learned early in my career to follow the orders of the President. I didn’t like some of the orders or the Presidents. Following orders promotes good discipline. I am a combat veteran and served from ’68 to ’94. Cuba has openings for gunners they’ll even supply the chicken _ _ _ _.

  11. This E-7 must have forgotten his Sailor’s creed–“I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I willl obey the orders of those appointed over me.” Leave the politicking to politicians. You joined the military and you have to follow orders. Bottom line is, the President is our Commander-in-Chief, whether he/she is a democrat or a republican, and we have to follow his/her orders. If you really feel strongly about your political views, you should show yourself and be prepared to face the consequences. I hope people will find out who you are, and I really hope that you get demoted to E-1.

  12. You would think that a Chief, irrespective of their domestic political leanings, had enough ‘smarts’ not to undertake this incredibly stupid action. There must be consequences for this. Separate to his individual actions, the western powers (not just the USA) have a legitimate right to retaliate against any agressors use of banned WMDs on a civilian target. If the west does not act the Assad regime just becomes more emboldened. There can be no Security Council action when Russia and China block every move. The shoe would be on the other foot if Chechens had the Sarin, wouldn’t it?

  13. Karen Luerssen on

    What difference does it make, the armed services are DEFINITELY American CITIZENS first and foremost and therefore have the RIGHT to have an opinion. The question is why are they AFRAID to show their faces…not because of cowardice, but because of self-preservation from a bunch of nut jobs like you people!!

  14. Commander Marc on

    I question the validity of the person in the picture. Look at the ribbons, I see many out of order, many I don’t even recognize. I just hope the Navy does not go high and right on this stuff without making sure this is a legit CPO and the same for the Army with the second picture.

  15. Hey Kat–He isn’t a COWARD… he is fully aware that LEGALLY he cannot show his face IN uniform. Because we are not allowed to make statements in uniform that would the reflect as the words coming from the service represented.

    Actually, he’s pretty damn BRAVE to take this on… just not STUPID by showing his face and having the fall out from it.

    Rather ingenious if you ask me… I wouldn’t have done it though…

  16. Listen, as a newly retired and proud Chief Petty Officer! You show total disrespect to that uniform and those anchors! Your actions are no better than a cowardly terrorist. You hid your face from the camera like many of them do! Your ideas are totally off target. You pollute and erode the very fiber of a traditional foundation, and the good order and discipline needed for young sailors today! And for each and every one of you on this post that condone this action you are no better. Everybody is entitled to their opinion and trust me you chose to join and serve under the statutes of our UCMJ. Shut your mouths and separate! Don’t hide your opinions and talk big in the shadows. Freaking CYBER insurgents!

  17. Oh trust me he is a coward Trista. If he is so darn proud and a true stand up for how he feels as and individual why would he worry about the legalities? Furthermore if its illegal to do what he is doing then why on earth would you take these actions? You call him BRAVE for defacing his oath? Just another case of an E-7 who slipped through the cracks. I bet some of you know this coward and I would tell you this…….I wouldn’t get in a bar fight with him let alone go to war beside him. He would probably shoot you in the back, or shoot himself in the foot to avoid deploying! COWARDLY E-7 smdh!

  18. Hey chief holding the sign,
    You joined the Navy to do what your country tells you. Thats why the Navy is going to hell because of shitty leaders like you.

  19. Lets just say that im at the tip of the spear right now and I say lets go get them OBAMA! To all you bums at there get over it!

  20. 1.) I do not believe it is the duty of this paper to investigate the identidy of this shipmate. he clearly did this to keep it anonymous.
    2.) We did swear to protect this nation from foreign and domestic enemies. That being said how does Syria pose a threat to us if we dont intervine? They really dont.
    3.) Should we not be more concerned with how our economy is, Wars/Conflicts cost alot of money. The government is already trying to take money out of our checks from BAH. Getting involved in this would just make us lose more money.
    4.) Everyone is looking to the US to intervine because they know they dont want to.
    5.) While i feel bad for the people who were murdered, i think we should let them settle it for themselves. Look at America we did just fine when we had problems with little help from anyone. How can they do anything right if we do it for them? 6.) Lastly, Anyone can say what they want, however i dont believe that your beliefs should be empowered by wether you wear a uniform or not, That was Chiefs poragative. Wether or not as a leader he was in the right is something he probaly fought with himself on, and this is how he decided it would be best.

    Leave this sailor alone and let justice do its job. Keep reporting news, but its not your “NAVYTIMES” job to intervine in the process of discovering his identidy.

  21. I agree with DOC about the lack of an initiation behind this E-7 going public with a statement like this. I am a proud retired Senior Chief and I never felt I was hazed during my initiation, but brought into a brotherhood that would never publicy make statements as such and if we did we would have the integrity to show our face and take claim to our statements.

  22. All of you are sitting in front of your computers calling this individual a coward, so what does that make you? I guess that helps you cope with the fact that this Government is out of control.
    So all of you currently serving are going to follow unconstitutional orders? More than likely in your ignorance your answer will be “I joined to serve, not to have an opinion”.
    If you feel that way I would venture a guess that you don’t have any idea of what constitutional is. You should explore the constitution as well as the declaration of independence and the circumstances surrounding the creation of these documents.
    As an active duty member of the military I will not follow unconstitutional orders and I have faith in those in positions above me to do the same.
    kay jay why is it you never put on that star?

  23. Victor Colon I couldn’t begin to tell you why I didn’t put on that star but what I will say is the there isn’t a regret from not doing so. I lived through my actions and my sailors growth. My integrity and my guidance was my reward. Now on to the serving without an opinion. If that is how you feel then I say that is the wrong answer. Strictly my opinion but when you start to push back because of politics and individual views that becomes a deadly game. Name any war that we have fought that somebody would deem not constitutional or worthy? You think Desert Storm was along the lines of a great reason to fight? Some say no I say yes. The bottom line is if you did think that constitutionally these orders that you have been handed why not get out knowing that that is what will come eventually? We join the service to do what? Defend the Nation not just collect a pay check and pick and choose which battle we should be involved. Yes it is being a coward to go against that and that is the very reason why our Armed Forces is more dominate than most. We live by our commitment! What happened the very first time that there were Tomahawks launched into Kuwait at the Iraqi Army in Desert Storm? The cowards waved flags and they surrendered immediately. Mainly because none of them were willing to risk their lives for anything let alone their leader or dictator. We have a very diverse and loyal Service. I will say this if this isn’t what you signed up for go to your CO and let them know that this isn’t for you. Stop hiding behind a keyboard sending out such ridiculous posts. Its disrespectful to us all who are and have served “faithfully”

  24. This probably is just someone dressed up in their Dad’s uniform or something like that, but if it is real, and this guy did serve in the first gulf war then that would make him eligible for transfer to the fleet reserve and collect his pension. So if it bothers him that much he can just drop his papers and be done with it. But like I said, its probably just some civilian wearing the uniform.

  25. I keep reading comments about how this guy in no chief because he has an opinion that goes against the President. Why is that so wrong and disrespectful? You joined to blindly do as your told, how are you any different morally from German troops during WW2 who ran the death camps? Those soldiers were put on trial for crimes against humanity and you know what their main defense was,
    “I was just doing what I was ordered to do”
    I do whish he had showed his face, not showing your face is kind of cowardly. He is probably just worried of repercussions for going against the Presidents political agenda though and doesn’t want his family to suffer for his opinion on it. Look at what happened with the rodeo clown incident.

    I do think that military members should have the right to express their opinion even when in uniform. Politicians express their personal opinion on things all the time as if it the opinion of all Americans. How about we have a national voter registration system were everyone can vote on something electronically and them we will see what America’s Opinion really is. The President just said the other day that he “didn’t set the red line, America did.”
    I am not affiliated with an political party and I believe that political parties. I believe they are the base for corruption and act more in a gang mentality then something that promotes productivity.

  26. This is not a Chief Petty Officer. Nice try! But if it were….. He’s entitiled to his opinion but he should keep it to himself or get the hell out! There’s no option and you signed up voluntarily and swore to a sacrid oath. If this were a CPO, he should not put the uniform on again and process out. Your honor is very questionable and you are not someone I’d want my troops to look up to. Good order and dicipline Brother! If your opinion would be followed by many, we would dificulties throughout the chain following orders and doing their damn jobs.

  27. TO the chief here and all of the military members that have done similar post on facebook, you disgrace the uniform. Our oath is very simple, to protect and defend the constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic. The foreign enemies are easy to identify, and for the most part there is no question that they are the enemy. Domestic enemies are a bit harder to define. But most are fought through the election process. Like him or his decisions or not Obama is still the Commander in Chief, and until he is voted out of office you must follow his orders.

    I for one am not in favor of strikes on Syria. Nothing good will come from it. The difference here is I am not wearing a uniform while making a political statement.

  28. Steve Nichols, LN1, USNR Ret. on

    I served my country in the U.S. Army on active-duty for almost 10 years and then wrapped my military career as a Navy Reservists and retired with over 20 years of combined active and reserve service. I was an enlisted member (paralegal) of the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

    The actions of this so called Chief Petty Officer are nothing less than disgraceful. He not only violated DoD and U.S. Navy regulations concerning political activities by U.S. service members, he also violated the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, disgraced the Golden Anchors of the Chief Petty Officer’s nation-wide, and exhibited behavior that he knew was just plain wrong.

    He could have voiced his disagreement with the Obama Administration’s proposed cruise missile strike against Syria without using his uniform as part of his protest.

    His conduct makes it clear that he is not true Chief Petty Officer material. If he is identified, and I assume the NCIS is investigating this incident, he should be brought up on charges, face a court martial at which he is found guilty of all charges, reduced to the rank of Seaman E-1 and kicked out of the U.S. Navy with a Dishonorable Discharge.

    I do wonder if he is really a CPO. The photo would had to have been taken recently…in the midst of Summer. Most CPOs wear their khaki uniforms, dress whites if wearing a dress uniform, or Blueberry cammies in the Summer months.

    All other U.S. military members who have posted copycat photos, you have also broken DoD and your respective branch of service’s regulations regarding political activity. Political activity, such as this, in uniform is forbidden. Each of you have also disgraced our uniform and branch of service. The non-commissioned officers who took copycat photos are not worth of their position as leaders of younger airmen, marines, sailors and troops. You should also be court-martialed.

    This type of break down of military discipline cannot be allowed to go unpunished.

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