The Pentagon is revisiting a policy put in place last year that restricts the kind of flags that can be exhibited on military sites.
The evaluation comes during Pride Month, which runs from June 1 through June 30. If the existing policy is changed, it may be possible to display the rainbow Pride flag. However, a senior defence source emphasised that no decisions have been taken because any modification may result in the display of a variety of cause-related flags and insignia on military stations. “This is about more than the Pride flag,” the official explained.
Concerning any potential adjustments, the official stated, “The reality is we haven’t settled it yet.” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s legal team is involved in the conversations. According to the official, Austin is aware of the situation.
In the heat of last summer’s racial tensions, former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper implemented the current regulation in an effort to prohibit the use of the Confederate flag and other potential hate symbols on military posts.
However, removing the restriction might cause a slew of other issues for the Pentagon, with defence officials privately warning that modifying the regulation might allow for the display of other flags and images.
One option is to tailor any policy change to specifically apply to the rainbow flag, as the State Department did in April when Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a blanket authorization for US diplomatic outposts to fly the rainbow flag on the same flagpole as the US flag at their embassy or consulate.
It’s unclear whether any Pentagon policy review would address whether Black Lives Matter flags would be allowed to be displayed publicly on bases.
The Confederate flag was banned from military bases last summer, according to military service leaders. President Donald Trump was publicly opposing Army efforts to rename bases and buildings named for Confederate generals and personnel at the time, so Esper stepped in to guarantee a policy that barred that flag and minimised any influence from him.
“The flags we fly must comply with the military imperatives of maintaining good order and discipline, treating all of our people with decency and respect, and avoiding divisive symbols,” Esper stated at the time.
The flags that were permitted for display on bases were enumerated in Esper’s July 2020 memo. The American flag and the POW/MIA flag, both of which are regularly displayed, were among the flags included. The document also allowed flags of US allies, military services, and the most senior commanders to be shown.
The memo prohibited all other flags, including the Confederate flag and the rainbow flag, but did not specify which ones were prohibited.