Lawmakers remind Rumsfeld of Defense dress policy

Two lawmakers who bore the brunt of an intense lobbying campaign to boost the National Guard's influence at the Pentagon are complaining to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for his apparent failure to dress down several Guard generals who dressed up.

In a June 29 letter to Rumsfeld, Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., and ranking member Carl Levin, D-Mich., reminded him that a department rule adopted last October prohibits the wearing of military uniforms at political events.

"The committee is concerned that departmental policies regarding the wearing of military uniforms during personal or public activities may be poorly understood and inadequately enforced," Warner and Levin wrote.

They cited a May 10 event outside the Russell Senate Office Building during which, the senators said, "about 25 general officers of the Army and Air National Guard" rallied in support of legislation that would elevate the National Guard Bureau chief to four-star rank and make him a member of the elite Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Most of the officers present wore their military uniforms during the event," Warner and Levin wrote. "Some press accounts referred to this event as a 'rally' in support of the legislation."

They enclosed for Rumsfeld's benefit a May 9 news release promoting the next day's appearance of adjutant generals from 27 states at "a rally behind a bill designed to empower the Guard inside the Pentagon."

"We would appreciate receiving your views on . . . whether wearing the uniform by the National Guard general officers who participated in this event on May 10, 2006, was authorized," Warner and Levin asked Rumsfeld.

Last month, Warner agreed to add language to the fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill that would promote the Guard chief to a four-star general, but not enlarge the Joint Chiefs. Despite his own objections, he also added provisions giving the state-run Guard new authority to identify gaps between itself and the active-duty military and to validate its own technology and equipment needs.

It was a compromise that capped a lobbying campaign by veterans and Guard members, long known for their strong, influential grassroots organizations. They inundated Capitol Hill with thousands of e-mails and letters supporting the original bill, sponsored by Sens. Christopher (Kit) Bond, R-Mo., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., co-chairmen of the National Guard Caucus, to boost the Guard's decision-making role.

Asked for his recollection of the May 10 event, Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke, president of the Adjutant General Association of the United States, said Thursday that it was a news conference, not a political rally.

Lempke, who was there, and other Guard officers had often worn their uniforms for news conferences and speeches last year in opposition to Pentagon base closure recommendations.

But Lempke, who is also Nebraska's top Guard officer, said the Guard only learned about the new uniform regulation several days ago. And even after learning of it, officers had difficulty finding the instructions, he said.

The Guard has not yet taken a position on the uniform policy, and Lempke would not comment on the Warner and Levin letter. A Senate Armed Services Committee spokesman also would not comment on the letter.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.