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Supervisor disciplined over American Samoa roll call gaffe

The supervisor responsible for two soldiers found “politicking” in uniform will be disciplined, United States Army officials confirmed this week.

During the Democratic National Convention virtual roll call of states in August, American Samoa’s Democratic Party leaders, Ali'itama Sotoa and Patti Matila were flanked by two uniformed reserve soldiers as they gave their support to former Vice-President, Joe Biden.

Their presence caused an immediate flurry of attention, with some accusing the two of violating Defence Department rules, and the Army began investigating the next day. 

In a statement this week, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Flake the chief of media relations for Army Reserve Strategic Communications said it was the two soldier’s supervisor that was to blame for the misconduct.

“The investigation found their supervisor violated a Department of Defense directive and an Army regulation that governs soldier political activities,” the Lt. Col. said.

“The supervisor at fault will receive the appropriate level of disciplinary action for violating the governing standards.”

Exactly what that disciplinary action will be was not stated, nor was the supervisor named.  

Defence Department policy rules that services members and employees of the Army may not do anything that associates the army with a partisan campaign or election.

“Wearing a uniform to a partisan political event like this is prohibited,” A Pentagon spokesman told the Samoa Observer at the time. 

In August, the Democratic Party officials said the two soldiers appeared in American Samoa’s roll call to “celebrate [the] legacy of military service” but acknowledged it was wrong to have done so.

An unquoted Democratic National Committee official was quoted as telling the ABC news video that the inclusion of the soldiers was an “oversight” on their part.

The Democratic National Convention is held every four years and is the formal process by which a presidential candidate is elected. All states (and territories) who are eligible to pledge delegates or representatives do so as a means of formally appointing the party’s political candidate.

Vice-President Biden received an overwhelming result of just under 75 per cent of all delegates, or more than 3800 in total ensuring his nomination to take on sitting President Trump at this year’s forthcoming United States election on Tuesday 3 November. 

The two soldiers who appeared in the video, one male and one female, both wore protective masks against the coronavirus.

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