Airmen at the Mino Air Force base looking forward to attending a mid-November Dakota Patriot Rally were given advice from the base’s leadership: Don’t go.
On November 17, leaked messages revealed that a master sergeant at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota advised leaders to alert airmen about the potential for violence against military members at the conservative rally. The message also emphasized caution regarding involvement in a political advocacy group.
The forbidden rally featured the pro-Trump group Turning Point Action, led by conservative Charlie Kirk. This message characterized Turning Point Action as an “alt-right organization” and warned that military members’ involvement with such groups could have an impact on their careers.
Of particular concern to Air Force leadership was scheduled speaker Tyler Bower, Turning Point Action’s chief operating officer. Bower is described as a “conservative activist” on Turning Point USA’s website and was characterized in the warning message as “alt-right.”
After warning about potential violence at the rally, the message went on to say, “Please remind them that participation with groups such as Turning Point Action could jeopardize their continued service in the U.S. military.”
Kirk posted on X that the Department of Defense has “declared war on conservatives” and urged Congress to “immediately investigate this absurd, unhinged threat.”
Minot Air Force Base acknowledged the group text and immediately walked it back. The correction claimed that the original message relied on “inaccurate information” and was sent through unauthorized channels. The rally was reclassified as a local political fundraiser with no inherent security implications.
The corrected message recognized that military personnel were protected under the First Amendment and had the right to participate in events as long as they were not in an official capacity. While the corrected communication supported members’ right to freedom of assembly, it noted that participating in a political event in an official capacity was restricted in the name of the military’s impartiality.
But Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota was not so easily appeased, calling it “disgusting” that the Air Force would consider the pro-military Turning Point USA event anything other than patriotic and pro-American.
Per a conversation Cramer had with Gen. David Allvin, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, regarding the “biased and misguided official communication,” Allvin said that the base had corrected the statement within an hour of its release. But Cramer noted that it took several days for an official statement to be released on its website and Facebook page.
Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) is calling for a full investigation. He explained that
If the Eighth Air Force and 5th Bomber Wing leaders don’t take appropriate action, they are condoning the message of an airman who threatened service members with conservative views.
Banks, who leads a House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel and heads the Anti-Woke Caucus, stated that the message amounted to defamation against a conservative organization and interference with the constitutionally protected right to free assembly and participation in the political process.
An Air Force spokesperson informed Banks that a Security Forces member identified a “potential concern” with Airmen who wanted to attend the event. The spokesperson explained that a Master Sergeant sent an unsanctioned message to his peer group to warn service members of this alleged security concern. It’s a standard practice for military leaders to use group messages to communicate with subordinates and lower-level leaders, but these messages must be authorized before being sent.
Banks has urged Air Force Maj. Gen. Jason Armagost, the Eighth Air Force commander, will provide additional details regarding the context of the text messages and the reasons behind the “potential concern” associated with the rally that sparked the controversy.
More alarming than any perceived “security concerns,” however, is the stark warning that participating in a conservative rally could “jeopardize their continued service in the U.S. military.”
Air Force regulations, aimed at preserving the professional and apolitical nature of the military, prohibit members of the U.S. armed forces from engaging in political activities or attending openly partisan events while in uniform. However, the warning service members received before the Dakota Patriot Rally didn’t mention this regulation. Instead, it was a blanket warning that airmen could face a disruption of their military careers simply for showing up at a conservative rally.
Meanwhile, the DOD is genuinely puzzled over the decline in its armed forces. It’s truly a mystery.