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SMA Chandler is 'watching you.' No, really. He is.

Aug. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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If you go too far on social media and discredit your service, SMA Chandler may see it and report it to your command. ()
SMA Chandler says having a little fun on Facebook is OK, but know where that line is and don't cross it. ()
This is a popular meme about the SMA, without using his image. It's a spoof of an insurance commercial. ()

Have you seen the internet meme, “SMA Chandler is watching you?” Well, it turns out that he is, and he’s seen the meme, too.

Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler, the service’s top enlisted official and public face of standards and professionalism, said he actually enjoys a little humor on social media.

It’s OK to go online and blow off steam, within reason, Chandler said. He has not been offended by the memes that have fun with his stern image.

“I actually think it is funny,” he said. “There is a line when it becomes completely irresponsible and demonstrates, as a soldier, their lack of discipline, but I like humor, and I like a good laugh.”

When he has seen soldiers crossing the line via social media — perhaps making a threat or discrediting the service they represent — Chandler has stepped in. He has personally called soldiers he thinks have been inappropriate on Facebook, or in other cases notified their commands.

“I have gone to their leadership and said, ‘Here is what this person said. I would like you to take a look at it and take whatever action you deem appropriate,’ ” Chandler said. “Because it is not professional, it is disrespectful, and it discredits not only that individual but the Army.”

Troops may express their political views in private, but the military’s rules prohibit partisan political statements while in uniform, as well as showing disrespect to a superior.

“Some soldiers are completely out of control in what they post,” Chandler said. “And whether it is directed at the commander-in-chief, the president, or if it is posted against any leader in the Army, that is like you are saying it to my face. And there is a consequence to that.”

Chandler said he reads the comments on his Facebook page, Army Times’ page and “U.S. Army W.T.F. Moments,” a humorous and sometimes-irreverent page dedicated to soldier culture.

Senior Army leaders are asked to monitor their personal and unit Facebook pages as well, Chandler said.

“I will look at mine every single day, believe it or not,” Chandler said. “And there are people we delete and ban, there are people that we talk to the chain of command up about, and then there are others that do exactly what they are supposed to do.”

Chandler cautioned that soldiers leaving the service may have their online activity scrutinized by potential employers. As long as they are in uniform, their superiors in the Army could be doing the same.

“If you put yourself out there and want to show just how really ignorant you are, then you have got a problem,” Chandler said. “And it is a question of remembering that you are a soldier while you are in the Army twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, you are accountable for what you do.”

In March, Chandler told Army Times he was personally upset by a viral photo of National Guardsmen posing comically next to a flag-draped training casket. The photo, which “tarnished the reputation of the rest of the Army,” Chandler said at the time, led to the suspension of seven National Guard members from funeral honors detail weeks earlier.

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