Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley rattled a conference on future military challenges Tuesday by abruptly ordering the live-stream cut off and putting his remarks off the record.
Milley gave no explanation for his last-minute action at the event sponsored by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies.
The Pentagon had notified reporters earlier that the event would be live-streamed by TRADOC, and there was no mention that Milley’s remarks would be off limits. The chief himself had tweeted just before the event, urging his followers to “watch live” as the conference began.
Milley’s spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson, also gave no explanation.
“There was a last minute change to keep Gen. Milley’s remarks off the record. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you,” Wilkinson said. In a followup email, she declined to say why Milley decided to go dark and also said that a transcript or summary of his remarks would not be made available.
Milley’s case of cold feet, first reported by the Washington Examiner, surprised attendees at the conference led by Army Gen. David Perkins, commander of TRADOC, and featuring panels of experts and academics.
The conference was part of TRADOC’s “Mad Scientist” initiative meant to “expand the Army’s knowledge base and identify new, innovative ways to deal with a complex future operational environment,” according to the promotional material.
Those who had hoped to watch the live-stream were puzzled at Milley’s surprise decision to cut it off for his own remarks but not for others.
In a chat box put up by TRADOC next to the live-stream, a viewer said, “Now we can’t hear the chief? Not sure why speaking frankly can’t be open to the public.”
The Mad Scientist initiative is an ongoing program of TRADOC’s intelligence section, and the events this week marked the second time the conference was held at Georgetown.
In his own remarks Monday, which were live-streamed, Perkins said he was not looking for innovative ideas to come out of the conference, but rather innovation itself. Perkins said he wanted to hear “what puts the U.S. Army at an advantage” in future conflicts.