Watch CBS News

Joint Chiefs remind military of duty to support and defend Constitution

Trump praises law enforcement after Capitol riot
Trump praises law enforcement in first public remarks since Capitol attack 04:09

Washington — The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking officers in each branch of the military, sent a remarkable memo to all members of the armed forces on Tuesday reminding them of their duty to uphold the Constitution and reaffirming that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.

"The American people have trusted the Armed Forces of the United States to protect them and our Constitution for almost 250 years. As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," the generals and admiral said in their memo.

The memo denounced the attacks on the Capitol on January 6, during which supporters of President Trump overran the building in a violent assault that resulted in the deaths of five people.

"We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection," the chiefs said. "As Service Members, we must embody the values and ideals of the Nation. We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law."

The Joint Chiefs of Staff serve as the president's chief military advisers, and typically remain apolitical. Although the memo does not make a political statement, it is notable that the service chiefs felt they needed to reaffirm the duty of the military ahead of the inauguration.

"On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief," the memo continued.

The message was signed by General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs; General John Hyten, the vice chairman; General James McConville, the chief of staff of the Army; General David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant; Admiral Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations; General Charles Brown, Jr., Air Force chief of staff; General John Raymond, chief of space operations; and General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

President Trump refused to concede the election until last week, and had urged Republican members of Congress to try to overturn the election. The riots at the Capitol on January 6 occurred while Congress tallied the Electoral College ballots certifying Mr. Biden as the winner.

There have been continued threats of violence by supporters of the president in the days ahead of the inauguration. At least 10,000 National Guard troops will be on-hand in the nation's capital to provide security for the event in the wake of the attack.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.