I have included a link to a story about ABC News and their recent interaction with US troops in Iraq. Basically, ABC conducted a poll of US troops to determine their voting preference and, of course, "discovered" that the majority of troops are split between Hillary and Obama. The poll was not scientific, just based on "random" interviews.
Immediately, I question the results. The military has traditionally been strongly supportive of conservative candidates somewhere in the range of 70-90%. The idea that this year they have somehow flipped completely into the liberal camp is more than suspicious. But no one has ever accused ABC of being fair and balanced.
But there is another big issue here, and that has to do with ethical journalism. What ABC News did was extremely unethical, perhaps even against the law (I'll let the legal folks debate that). But the ethics here (or lack thereof) aren't debatable. ABC has put these troops in a bad predicament. The UCMJ is clear on this issue. A US soldier can not endorse a political candidate from behind the uniform while on active duty service. And a soldier is not allowed to use their military status, on or off duty, as a means of supporting a candidate. On their own time, apart from military duty, a soldier is free to do what they want provided it does not conflict with Dept of Defense or US policy.
For example, an off-duty soldier can't participate in a rally advocating the overthrow of the US government. That's an extreme example, but you get the point. A soldier, even in civilian attire, can't say "I am a Captain in the US Army and I support Obama". That's using your status in the military to support a candidate. Leave the "I am a Captain in the US Army" part off, and it's okay. And if the soldier is on duty, wearing the uniform, they are NOT allowed to formally endorse a political candidate. They can attend an Obama rally in civilian attire, but not in their military uniform. You get the point.
ABC News surely was aware of this, yet they asked the question anyway. I doubt these troops will face significant disciplinary action, but they could if the military so decided. Granted, it's the duty of ALL soldiers to know the boundaries and limitations regarding their own conduct, but I still have a big problem with what ABC News did. They were wrong and these troops may pay a price for it.