It's official: The military convoy seen flying a Trump flag in Louisville on Sunday belonged to a Navy Special Warfare unit, and the flag was "unauthorized," a Navy spokeswoman said.
Lt. Jacqui Maxwell of the Naval Special Warfare Group 2 in Virginia Beach, Va., said a command inquiry is underway.
“Yes, it was inappropriate,” Maxwell said. “It was unauthorized.”
She said she did not know the potential penalties for the violation.
Military regulations say personnel should avoid implying Department of Defense sponsorship or endorsement of any “political candidate, campaign or cause.”
Some motorists said they were alarmed by military units flying the flag of a national leader rather than the country, which they said is reminiscent of a fascist government or banana republic.
Others noted that Trump is now the commander in chief, not a political candidate, and they saw nothing wrong with service members supporting him. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Maxwell said the Special Warfare forces were training in and around Fort Knox. She said they were based on the East Coast but she couldn’t disclose their exact location because of security reasons. She added that she didn’t know why the vehicles were not marked.
Photos and videos of the convoy were first posted by a new Louisville-based political organization, indivisibleky, that opposes Trump and his agenda. Witnesses variously described the convoy including four and 10 trucks.
"We are very concerned by this partisan political act by apparent military members in official military vehicles," said Chris Rowzee, spokeswoman for indivisibleky. "Our nation's military must remain loyal to the constitution, and not any one individual. It's critical to our democracy that the American public be able to trust that their military is apolitical and non partisan. This type of blatant partisan political display demonstrating allegiance to a singular person brings to mind the types of actions historically seen in authoritarian regimes and dictatorships. It's chilling. I truly hope the Navy conducts a thorough investigation into this incident and takes appropriate corrective action."
Maxwell said the infractions will be investigated by the unit’s commander, who will decide what discipline to impose, if any.
A Department of Defense spokesman said Monday he thought the trucks were military surplus and being driven by private citizens. But experts on military transport said they were equipped with expensive technology, including ballistic glass, that wouldn’t be seen on a decommissioned vehicles, and that they probably belonged to the Navy SEALs or other special operations forces.
The trucks also bore numbers that match those used by the Navy.
The Navy Special Warfare Command is part of the U.S. Special Operations Command, which is responsible for overseeing and conducting special operations and secret missions.
It specializes in unconventional warfare, direct actions, counterterrorism, special reconnaissance and personnel recovery.