Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty

SUBJECT: Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty

References: (a) DoD Directive 1344.10, "Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces," September 25, 1986 (hereby canceled)

(b) Title 10, United States Code

(c) DoD Directive 5200.2, "DoD Personnel Security Program," April 9, 1999

(d) DoD Directive 1325.6, "Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces," October 1, 1996

(e) through (h), see enclosure 1


This Directive:

1.1. Reissues reference (a) to update DoD policies on political activities of members of the Armed Forces on active duty (AD).

1.2. Implements Section 973(b) of reference (b).


This Directive applies to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments (including the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a Military Service in the Department of the Navy by agreement with the Department of Transportation), the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Activities, and all other organizational entities within the Department of Defense (hereafter referred to collectively as "the DoD Components").


The terms used in this Directive are defined in enclosure 2.


It is DoD policy that a member of the Armed Forces (hereafter referred to as "member") is encouraged to carry out the obligations of a citizen. While on AD, however, members are prohibited from engaging in certain political activities. Subject to the guidelines in enclosure 3, the following DoD policy shall apply:

4.1. General

4.1.1. A member on AD may: Register, vote, and express his or her personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces. Make monetary contributions to a political organization. Attend partisan and nonpartisan political meetings or rallies as a spectator when not in uniform.

4.1.2. A member on AD shall not: Use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election; affecting the course or outcome of an election; soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issue; or requiring or soliciting political contributions from others. Be a candidate for, or hold, civil office except as authorized in paragraphs 4.2. and 4.3., below. Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions. Make campaign contributions to another member of the Armed Forces or an employee of the Federal Government.

4.1.3. To assist in applying subparagraphs 4.1.1. and 4.1.2., above, to particular situations, enclosure 3 provides guidelines and examples of permissible and prohibited political activities. The guidelines in enclosure 3 do not supersede other specific requirements and policies, such as those established in DoD Directives 5200.2 and 1325.6 (references (c) and (d)).

4.1.4. Enclosure 4 provides a summary of Federal statutes restricting certain types of political activities by members of the Armed Forces.

4.2. Candidacy for Elective Office. A member on AD may not:

4.2.1. Campaign as a nominee, or as a candidate for nomination, for civil office, except as authorized in subparagraph 4.3.3., below. When circumstances warrant, the Secretary concerned or the Secretary's designee may permit a member to file such evidence of nomination or candidacy for nomination, as may be required by law. Such permission shall not authorize activity while on AD that is otherwise prohibited in subparagraph 4.1.2., above, or enclosure 3 or 4.

4.2.2. Become a candidate for any civil office while serving an initial tour of extended active duty (EAD) or a tour of EAD that the member agreed to perform as a condition of receiving schooling or other training wholly or partly at U.S. Government expense.

4.3. Election or Appointment to Civil Office

4.3.1. Except as authorized by subparagraph 4.3.3., below, or otherwise provided for by law, no member on AD may hold or exercise the functions of civil office: In the U.S. Government that: Is an elective office. Requires an appointment by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Is a position on the executive schedule under sections 5312 through 5317 of reference (e). In the government of a State; the District of Columbia; a territory, possession, or commonwealth of the United States; or in any political subdivision thereof.

4.3.2. A member may hold or exercise the functions of a civil office in the U.S. Government that is not described in subparagraph, above, when assigned or detailed to such office or to perform such functions.

4.3.3. As long as they are not serving on EAD, enlisted members and Reserve officers may hold partisan or nonpartisan civil office if such office is held in a private capacity and does not interfere with the performance of military duties. Additionally, enlisted members on EAD may seek and hold nonpartisan civil office as a notary public or member of a school board, neighborhood planning commission, or similar local agency, as long as such office is held in a private capacity and does not interfere with the performance of military duties. Officers on active duty may seek and hold nonpartisan civil office on an independent school board that is located exclusively on a military reservation.

4.3.4. Unless prohibited by Service regulations, a member on AD may serve as a regular or reserve civilian law enforcement officer or as a member of a civilian fire or rescue squad. Such service shall be in a private capacity, shall not involve the exercise of military authority, and shall not interfere with the performance of military duties.

4.3.5. A member elected or appointed to a prohibited civil office may request retirement and shall be retired if eligible for retirement. If such member does not request or is not eligible for retirement, the member shall be discharged or released from AD, as determined by the Secretary concerned.

4.3.6. The separation and retirement requirements of subparagraph 4.3.5., above, do not apply if the member declines to serve in the prohibited office; if the Secretary concerned determines that the member should not be released from active duty based on the needs of the Service; or if the member is: Obligated to fulfill an AD service commitment. Serving or has been issued orders to serve afloat or in an area that is overseas, remote, a combat zone, or a hostile fire pay area. Ordered to remain on AD while the subject of an investigation or inquiry. Accused of an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), 10 U.S.C. chapter 47 (reference (b)), or serving a sentence or punishment for such offense. Pending administrative separation action or proceedings. Indebted to the United States. On AD during a period of declared war, a national emergency, or other period when a unit of the Reserves or National Guard has been called to AD. In violation of an order or regulation prohibiting such member from assuming or exercising the functions of civil office.

4.3.7. A member who refuses to decline to serve in a prohibited civil office after being denied separation or retirement in accordance with subparagraph 4.3.6., above, may be subject to disciplinary or adverse administrative action under Service regulations.

4.3.8. No actions undertaken by a member in carrying out assigned military duties shall be invalidated solely by virtue of such member having assumed or exercised the functions of a civil office in violation of paragraph 4.3., above.


5.1. The Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) (ASD(FMP)) shall be responsible for the administration of this Directive.

5.2. The Secretaries of the Military Departments shall be responsible for issuance of appropriate implementing documents for their respective Departments.


All members of the Armed Forces on AD engaging in political activities shall follow the guidelines in enclosure 3.


This Directive is effective immediately.

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