The military convoy spotted near Louisville flying a large Trump campaign flag on the lead vehicle was tied to an East Coast Navy SEALs unit, and an inquiry has begun, a Naval Special Warfare Group spokeswoman said.
The group of about eight Humvees was spotted Sunday by several drivers or their passengers, who recorded the vehicles as they traveled north on Interstate 65. The large blue Trump flag drew attention as images and videos were shared on social media.
The Trump flag was not authorized, said Lt. Jacqui Maxwell, public affairs officer at Naval Special Warfare Group 2 out of Virginia Beach.
The decision to fly the flag has been praised and criticized on social media. But military regulations bar active-duty personnel from engaging in partisan political activities, and “all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause.”
“Regardless of your position, you’re still held to the same standard. That’s Navy-wide and Department of Defense-wide,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell did not know how long the formal inquiry into the flag will take and what the potential ramifications might be.
The Defense Department initially told the Herald-Leader that the vehicles didn’t belong to an active military unit.
But Maxwell said the convoy vehicles were based at Fort Knox, a large base in three Kentucky counties and adjacent to Radcliff, and were being driven between training areas. SEALs regularly train at Fort Knox.
The Navy’s admission dovetailed with information from sleuths on Reddit, a popular link-sharing website. They dug up evidence Tuesday linking the Louisville convoy’s registration numbers to a public report from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. The report from September 2003, specifically page 65, shows how the number scheme matched that of the Navy’s “Truck, Light (up to 10,000 LB. GVW).” The sleuths also uncovered a Wikimedia photo of a nearly identical Navy SEALs Humvee sporting a similar registration number.
Praised for their bravery and grit, the SEALs have drawn some criticism over the years from the public and inside the armed services for circumnavigating regulations. The gripes were captured in a story by The Intercept on Jan. 10 titled “The Crimes of Seal Team 6,” a special mission unit popularized in films like “Zero Dark Thirty.” The article mentioned how “critics in the military complained that SEAL Team 6 — with their full beards and arms, legs, and torsos covered in tattoos — looked like members of a biker gang.”