Pentagon limiting senior leader appearances at public events: report

Pentagon limiting senior leader appearances at public events: report
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The Pentagon has limited public appearances by senior military leaders and its senior political appointees, Defense One reported Thursday.

A rule put in place nine months ago stipulates that only one senior military leader and one civilian leader are allowed to appear per day at each nongovernment event.

Pentagon officials confirmed the policy and provided internal memos to Defense One when it asked why two of four officials scheduled to speak at Thursday’s Defense One Summit canceled, according to the report.

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“The department shall limit participation at outside events by senior officials to one senior military and one senior civilian leader per day unless the circumstances warrant greater participation,” reads a Jan. 31 memo published by Defense One.

The policy became effective Feb. 1, according to the memo, which said the change was necessary to “optimize travel” and ensure ongoing work “receives appropriate senior leader attention.”

A Feb. 7 memo from the Pentagon’s chief management officer outlined the implementation for civilian leaders, while a Feb. 6 memo from the Joint Staff did the same for military leaders.

“The purpose of this restriction is to support the department’s lines of effort, promote efficient use of limited department resources and ensure the ongoing work of the department receives appropriate senior leader attention,” reads the chief management officer memo.

News of the restriction comes as Pentagon faces criticism for curtailing its interactions with the press. Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White has not held an on-camera briefing since May, while Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies Trump says he wanted to take out Syria's Assad but Mattis opposed it Gary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November MORE prefers talking to reporters off camera, often showing up in the pressroom with little to no notice.

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The Pentagon announced earlier this month that Marine Maj. Gen. Burke Whitman will become its new on-camera briefer.

Critics said the limit on public appearances is part of a pattern to limit the visibility of Pentagon officials in order not to provoke President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE.

“You and I both know what this is: an attempt to minimize the department’s profile to the president. Fewer speakers means fewer headlines means fewer angry tweets from the Lincoln bedroom,” an unnamed former senior military official told Defense One.