A U.S. Air Force base is walking back its warning to troops not to attend a political rally.
In a recent message, leaders at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota were told to “exercise caution if downtown this weekend” due “to an event going at the fairgrounds downtown, called Dakota Patriot Rally.”
The message said that the guest speaker was “from an alt-right organization called Turning Point USA.”
“Please advise your folks that if they are going to be downtown this weekend, it’s good to be cautious, as the crowds this event may attract could be confrontational to military members,” the message stated. “Additionally please remind them that participation with groups such as Turning Point Action could jeopardize their continued service in the U.S. military.”
After criticism from a number of members of Congress, among others, the base has acknowledged the message was sent.
“The message was based on incorrect data and sent outside of official base messaging platforms. Once the error was identified, base security officials corrected the message traffic to categorize the event as a local political fundraiser, with no security concerns,” the base said in a statement. “Further, the updated message communicated there were no issues with military members participating in their personal capacity—in line with their First Amendment rights. All Air Force Airmen have a Constitutional right to freedom of assembly.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) was among the members criticizing the message.
“These left wing political messages are way too common in our military these days, and that needs to be stopped. We need to get our military focused on what they’re supposed to be doing, and that is their own mission,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Cramer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the chief of staff of Air Force General David Allvin conveyed that an internal correction was sent 52 minutes after the message but noted the public statement was not released until Nov. 21, four days later.
Mr. Cramer questioned why the public statement was not offered sooner and called on the Air Force to apologize to Turning Point and to conservatives.
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said that the warning against attending the rally violated government policy. “When out of uniform and off-base, our servicemembers have the constitutional right to attend political events,” he said in a statement.
Turning Point USA is a nonprofit that advocates for conservative policies at colleges and in high schools. Turning Point Action is affiliated with Turning Point USA.
Charlie Kirk, who founded Turning Point USA, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the situation showed the U.S. Department of Defense has “declared war on conservatives.”
The Dakota Patriot Rally featured Tyler Bower, a conservative activist who is Turning Point Action’s chief operating officer, as the guest speaker.
“Turning Point Action is not alt-right, it’s a mainstream conservative organization and Tyler Bowyer is not some fringe personality—he’s the COO of TPAction, an RNC committeeman from the state of Arizona, and one of the most accomplished political organizers in the country,” a spokesperson for the group told Fox News.
“It’s exactly this type of poison that has caused the Air Force to miss its recruiting goal for the first time in decades,” the spokesperson said.
The Air Force missed its fiscal year 2023 recruiting goal by about 10 percent, officials said recently. They blamed a “battle for talent” and people being unfamiliar with the U.S. military.
The spokesperson called for a congressional investigation into what happened.
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), a retired Navy rear admiral, said that he has launched a probe.
“They’re threatening conservative military members and robbing them of their constitutional rights,” he said on X. “I am so pissed! This woke garbage will stop!”
From The Epoch Times