Fort Carson selfie leads to secret punishment

March 7, 2014 Updated: March 7, 2014 at 8:50 pm

The punishment of a Fort Carson soldier who caused Internet outrage with a 'selfie' of her avoiding saluting the flag will be kept secret, officials on the post said Friday.

That means Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey, of Fort Carson's 43rd Sustainment Group, won't be court-martialed for placing an image on her Instagram account with a caption that read, "This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don't have to salute the 1700 flag, KEEP ALL YOUR 'THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOWRUDE/ETC.' COMMENTS TO YOURSELF cuz, right now, IDGA FFFF (acronym for "I don't give a 'expletive'")."

Instead, her punishment will be handled administratively by a unit commander, and the Army says it will be kept secret in accordance with the Privacy Act.

"The investigation into the social-media incident concerning a Fort Carson soldier is complete," the post said in a news release. "The unit commander addressed the situation consistent with his authority. It is not the policy of the United States Army to disclose the results of administrative actions."

Sheffey's selfie hit the Internet early last week, and Army commanders learned of it from an avalanche of criticism that decried disrespect to the flag.

A Gazette story on the selife was shared by more than 21,000 Facebook users.

The post held a news conference on the issue and began an official investigation into Sheffey's behavior. Leaders said all options, including court-martial, were on the table.

Administrative punishment doled out by a unit commander could include such things as "verbal counseling" or administrative punishment under the Army's Article 15, which can be used to take rank and money from wayward troops.

Sheffey's case illustrated a growing problem for the Army as its soldiers espouse their views on social media sites.

Troops retain their First Amendment rights when they put on the uniform, with some limits.

Soldiers cannot act in a manner that brings discredit to the Army or their commanders.

While the Army's discipline in the Sheffey incident is veiled in secrecy, the selfie did result in some very public backlash.

A Facebook group formed after her posting, Military Social Media Idiots, has 17,500 followers.

The group pledges to shame troops who post pictures online that can discredit their service.

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