United States’ top general is apologizing for appearing in a photo-op with President Donald Trump after the forceful dispersal of protesters outside the White House last week, saying the move was a “mistake.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said he regretted his participation in the now-infamous photo opportunity outside St. John’s Church last week.
“I should not have been there,” Milley said during a recorded message aired at the graduation of the National Defense University on Thursday morning, CNN reports. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
“My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it,” he added.
While he did not pose for photographs with Trump upon arriving at St. John’s Church, Milley, dressed in his combat fatigues, was captured on camera walking behind Trump as he moved from the White House to the church.
Both Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have told colleagues they are distressed with the criticism about the walk to St. John’s because it became a photo-op with political overtones. When asked if they regret being on the walk, one administration official close to both men recently told CNN, “Of course they do.”
Gen. Milley also addressed racial inequality within the armed forces, saying” our military has a mixed record on equality.”
“While the military sets an example for civil society through our inclusiveness, we too have not come far enough. We all need to do better. For example, although the United States military has a higher proportion of African Americans serving in our ranks than in society at large, only 7% of our flag and general officers are African American,” he said, adding “we must, we can, and we will do better.”