Navy ROTC units told not to speak to on-camera press, told they can speak to on-camera press

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The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps are halting all its community outreach efforts and learning how to deal with the press in the wake of the government shutdown.

In an email to commanding officers and executive officers of NROTC units across the country Wednesday, which was obtained by The Daily Caller, Lt. Matthew Comer, a spokesman for Navy Service Training Command, laid out the press guidelines for the government shutdown.

“Military members shall not give on on-camera interviews regarding shutdown but may provide written or spoken comment,” he wrote.

According to Navy spokesman Chris Servello, the Navy does not prohibit its sailors from speaking with the media.

“Sailors are not prohibited from sharing their personal opinions on this or any other topic of interest with members of the public or media,” Servello told TheDC.

“When appropriate we provide public affairs guidance and advice to better facilitate productive experiences between our folks and members of the media.”

After TheDC contacted Comer and the Navy about the speech restrictions Thursday, Comer dispatched a follow-up email to ROTC unit leaders with an updated message.

“It was brought to my attention by a few collogues that the guidance I provided in the email below is unnecessarily restrictive and not in accordance with our [public affairs] regs and policy,” he wrote in his follow up email. “All Sailors and Marines are allowed to express their opinions to the public and the media at any time, I simply was trying to provide my best professional advice.”

He added that “given the uncertainty and propensity for this situation to change,” he recommends being in touch with his office before dealing with the press, and said that the goal is “to ensure your success by providing clarity[of] message and to facilitate the best relationship possible with your local media.”

In addition to the guidelines about dealing with the press, Navy ROTC also received word Wednesday that all their community outreach events would be canceled or postponed until after the shutdown.

“This includes all external speaking engagements, color guard/ drill support (to include color guard participation at university and college sporting events), and command supported volunteer events,” Comer wrote Wednesday. “Even if events are at no cost to the government, or have already been approved, any external event where you or your students are official representatives of the Navy or Marine Corps shall be cancelled, declined or postponed until the end of the government shutdown.”

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