American Samoa soldiers in uniform during DNC roll call raises questions

By LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News

(MILWAUKEE) — American Samoa’s turn during Tuesday night’s video roll call at the Democratic National Convention was noteworthy not only because of the scenic Pacific backdrop, but because of the presence of two junior enlisted Army soldiers who were seen flanking two Democratic delegates.

The scene raised eyebrows because U.S. military personnel are not supposed to participate in political events while in uniform.

All American military personnel, active duty members and reservists are instructed to remain apolitical during political campaigns.

Like all American voters, military personnel can support political candidates and attend political rallies, but they must do so on their own time, and never while in uniform.

That’s why the presence of two junior Army enlisted soldiers during the DNC’s roll call to nominate Joe Biden as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee has now drawn viewers’ attention.

The soldiers’ name tags were clearly visible on their uniforms, though their faces were covered by face masks used due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A defense official told ABC News that the presence of the two soldiers will raise questions about how they ended up participating during the roll call as the political restrictions remain in place for all active duty and reserve personnel.

ABC News has reached out to the DNC for comment and to Biden campaign officials for clarification on who authorized the presence of the two soldiers during the roll call.

It is unclear what Army unit the soldiers belong to as American Samoa does not really have an active duty Army presence, nor does it have a National Guard. Still, there is a small Army Reserve Center that manages several hundred Army reservists on American Samoa.

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