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.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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