The Pentagon has ordered Stars and Stripes, the military’s century-old independent newspaper, to shut down at the end of September, after slashing its budget earlier this year.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper decided to cease publication as part of his department-wide budget review, according to a memo signed by Army Col. Paul Haverstick, acting director of the Pentagon’s Defense Media Activity.
Plans to shut down the newspaper are due on Sept. 14 and the final issue will be on Sept. 30.
The move comes after the Pentagon earlier this year cut the $15.5 million in funding for the paper from the Defense Department’s budget — which members of Congress have objected to for months.
A coalition of 15 senators, including Republicans and Democrats, sent letters to Esper as recently as this week urging him to reinstate funding. The letter also warned that the department is legally barred from canceling a budget program while a temporary continuing resolution funding the federal government is in effect.
Stars and Stripes, which also publishes stories online, gets its funding from the Defense Department.
The Pentagon memo calls for the organization to be dissolved by the end of January, as well as a “specific timeline for vacating government-owned/leased space worldwide,” USA Today reported.
Sen. Lindsay Graham wrote to Esper in a separate letter last month voicing opposition to the move to defund, calling the paper a “valued hometown newspaper” for members of the armed forces.
“As a veteran who has served overseas, I know the value that the Stars and Stripes brings to its readers,” the South Carolina Republican wrote.
The House-passed version of the Pentagon budget includes funding for the paper, but the Senate has not yet finalized a defense funding bill.
Stars and Stripes delivers daily news to military troops around the world — and has been doing so since the Civil War. The paper began consistently publishing during World War I, ended when the war was over, then started again during World War II, when it provided wartime news written by troops for troops.
The outlet’s Twitter feed on Friday was filled with freshly filed stories — and tweets from its reporters vowing to keep getting the news out.
“I read Stars and Stripes on a mountain in Afghanistan when I was a 19 year old aspiring journalist,” wrote Steve Beynon. “Now I work there. This doesn’t stop the journalism. I’m juggling 3 future news stories today.”
With Post wires