Update: In a tweet sent Friday afternoon, Trump appeared to back off of the plan to shutter Stars and Stripes.
The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch. It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2020
The Pentagon is planning to dissolve Stars and Stripes, the independent military newspaper that has, for decades, provided troops with important information and a connection to home. The Pentagon has instructed that the publication’s final edition be published on Wednesday, September 30, according to a Pentagon memo obtained by USA Today. Stars and Stripes is headquartered in downtown DC.
Although the paper maintains editorial independence from the Pentagon, the publication depends on its funding to survive. In February, the Department of Defense proposed a reallocation of about $15.5 million from Stars and Stripes to other Pentagon programs. The cuts account for around half of the publication’s annual funds used to cover expenses, according to Stars and Stripes.
However, the publication has vocal support in Congress. Twelve senators wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Wednesday expressing concerns over the demise of the paper. It’s a bipartisan effort: Signees include veteran Tammy Duckworth, Susan Collins, and Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen.
“It was Stars and Stripes that revealed the Defense Department’s use of public relations firms that profiled reporters and steered them toward favorable coverage of the war in Afghanistan,” write the Senators. “Most recently, the paper brought to light the failure of schools on U.S. military installations to shut down during the pandemic, despite Japanese public schools doing so. These stories illustrate why Stars and Stripes is essential: they report on stories that no one else covers.”
The publication traces its roots to the Civil War. It was during World War II that the paper began publishing regularly, sending issues around the world to wherever troops were deployed. The newspaper now has an online presence and reports on the communities in which military personnel are stationed—with printers in Kabul, South Korea, Bahrain, and more—while also providing a link to the US.