The Army Should Defend Soldiers Online, Too, Top Enlisted Soldier Says
‘I got your back’, says Sgt. Maj. Grinston, who subtweeted critics of women in the military on Twitter, seeming to contradict the Army secretary.
Two days after the United States Army secretary urged top officers to use caution when posting on social media, even if in defense of their troops, the top enlisted soldier gave his senior non-commissioned officers different advice.
“As a leader, you are expected to intervene on behalf of your soldiers,” Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston read from Army command doctrine. “And in parentheses it says: online and in-person.”
What Army leaders can post on social media has been a hot topic at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., following a controversial investigation into one general’s public defense of female troops.
In a report released last week, the Army accused Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe of bringing “negative publicity” to the service after he posted several tweets rebuking political talk show host Tucker Carlson’s criticism of women serving in uniform. The Army’s decision to investigate Donahoe has drawn fire from those who believe service leaders should defend him instead.
Soon after Donahoe’s investigation came to light, Grinston tweeted, “Let me be absolutely clear: I stand with our women in uniform.” At Wednesday’s panel, an audience member applauded the SMA’s office for how it handles social media.
The audience member then asked how other leaders could do the same.
“I would just say, I got your back. And I think every [non-commissioned officer] in here should say the same,” Grinston said, adding that Army doctrine is on his side.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth fielded similar questions throughout the conference and was careful not to take as clear a stance as Grinston has.
“I do want our leaders to be able to have a social-media presence and to be able to speak up for soldiers and defend soldiers…but I think in this environment, senior leaders have to choose their words very carefully,” Wormuth said during a separate press conference at AUSA on Monday.
Grinston did add that “you need to do it professionally, and you need to do it the right way,” echoing Wormuth’s sentiment that social media engagement needs to be done carefully.
Wormuth was criticized for her lack of clear support of Donahoe. Grinston told soldiers it’s in their rulebook.
“Read it,” Grinston said of the Army’s command policy outlining the expectation that leaders defend soldiers. “This is written in the Army command policy. If you haven’t read it, please do.”