McSally campaign photo may fly in face of military regs
A photograph of Republican congressional candidate Martha McSally in military uniform, posted Thursday on Facebook and Twitter, appears to be a violation of a Defense Department directive.
Members of the military — including retired officers such as McSally — are prohibited from using photographs of themselves in uniform as the "primary graphic representation in any campaign media."
McSally is a former A-10 pilot who first garnered national attention more than a decade ago because of her pursuit of a change in DOD uniform policies that required female personnel in Saudi Arabia to wear a local robe and scarf while off base.
The photo, posted at 10:50 a.m. Thursday on Facebook by McSally's congressional campaign, and a minute later on Twitter, shows the former Air Force pilot standing just outside a cockpit. The message "Happy 67th Birthday, Air Force" is superimposed, along with "Martha McSally/U.S. Congress."
Along with the photo, the repeat congressional candidate wrote, "I want to wish a happy 67th birthday to the U.S. Air Force and all my fellow airmen in Southern Arizona. It was an honor to serve my country and lead men and women in the strongest and best air force in the world."
Under DOD Directive 1344.10, retired members of the military face restrictions on how they may refer to their service while conducting political activities.
Those not on active duty can mention their rank and service affiliation, but "they must clearly indicate their retired or reserve status."
They may also use photographs of themselves in military uniform, "when displayed with other non-military biographical details."
From the directive:
Any such military information must be accompanied by a prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer that neither the military information nor photographs imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or their particular Military Department (or the Department of Homeland Security for members of the Coast Guard); e.g., "John Doe is a member of the Army National Guard. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense."
The Defense Department also instructs that retired personnel may not "use or allow the use of photographs, drawings, and other similar media formats of themselves in uniform as the primary graphic representation in any campaign media."
While the Pentagon can punish active-duty violators of the directive with a court-martial, there is fewer enforcement mechanisms to penalize retired personnel who break the rules. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, military retirees who are receiving pay remain subject to the code, and may be brought before a court-martial.
While in 2014, McSally's campaign has posted fewer social media images of her in uniform, throughout 2012-13 she used many such photographs, and often did not include the required disclaimers nor mentions of her retired status.
Her campaign is apparently aware of the regulations, having included the required disclaimer in a campaign commercial released last week.
Neither McSally nor her campaign spokesman, Patrick Ptak, responded to requests for comment.
Ashley Nash-Hahn, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Ron Barber's reelection campaign, declined to comment.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Tom Norris flew with McSally in 1995-96, including while deployed to Kuwait to enforce a no-fly zone over Iraq.
Norris, a Republican who's supporting Barber because of his distaste for McSally, said Thursday that "she does what she wants, regardless of the rules."
"She has a tendency to blame others for her own mistakes," the Air Force veteran said.
In 2010, McSally retired after 26 years in the Air Force, having served as a fighter pilot and rising to the rank of colonel, and eventually commanding the 345th Fighter Squadron based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. She flew in combat areas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2001, she sued the Defense Department over a policy that required female service members in Saudi Arabia to wear a dark body-covering robe and headscarf when not on a military base.
McSally first challenged that policy while stationed in Kuwait in the mid-90s, when she wanted to visit a friend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Norris said.
McSally has cited both her Christian faith and issues of gender discrimination in explaining her opposition to donning what she has called "Muslim garb."
Fellow A-10 pilot Norris, who retired in 2008, has called on her to release her complete service record.
"She was on a fast track, a rising star: promoted two years early to major, two years early to lieutenant colonel, a year before her peers to colonel," he said. "Then she was put out to pasture, in a dead-end job marking time at a college in Germany."
"The only thing she has to run on is a military career. A person with her record should have been a four-star general. So what happened?" he said.
McSally lost in the Republican primary in a spring 2012 special election to replace the retired Gabrielle Giffords in Congress. GOP candidate Jesse Kelly lost of Ron Barber. In the 2012 general election, McSally was the Republican candidate as Barber again won a seat.
In August, McSally was again named the GOP nominee to face Barber in what many predict will be one of the closest, and most expensive, congressional races in the nation.